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Ahluwalia appointment illegal: AG

June 5, 2021 12:05 pm
Professor Pal Ahluwalia [left] and Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says the appointment of Professor Pal Ahluwalia as the University of the South Pacific Vice-Chancellor is illegal.

Speaking in parliament last night, Sayed-Khaiyum clarified that the charter and the regulations of USP are quite specific.

“As the contract says, when a person’s contract is terminated because of the fact that their work permit gets cancelled, their contract automatically gets terminated. That is what is stipulated. The lawyers for USP are Munro Leys who actually said the contract is terminated, then in a subsequent legal opinion, they said however now you can reappoint him, whereas the regulations and the charter says that there is a particular process through which you appoint the vice-chancellor.”

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The USP Council decided earlier this week that Professor Ahluwalia will be offered a three-year contract to be based at the USP Samoa Campus.

The Attorney General says the process is to advertise the position, go through a selection panel and then appoint a vice-chancellor.

He adds Fiji’s position in the appointment of any vice-chancellor was to follow the established process.

Sayed-Khaiyum told parliament that Professor Ahluwalia could well have been reappointed if the USP Council had gone through the proper channel, and Fiji would have had no objection to that – but they took a shortcut.

“They actually did a vote on this, which is unbelievable. Seven in favour, six abstentions, and one of course from Fiji against it. This is how close it was because the abstentions actually indicated that these countries on the Council or members of the Council knew that what was actually being done is not necessarily correct because you never appoint a Vice-Chancellor simply through a Council resolution.”

Sayed-Khaiyum says what they’ve also discovered is that USP continued to pay Professor Pal Ahluwalia despite his contract being terminated.

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