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Petitioner challenging honorary degree told to file amended prayer

Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court on Monday directed a petitioner, who challenged the conferment of Honoris Causa on R. Sabarathinavel, Medical Officer, Government Dispensary, Raj Bhavan, by Tamil Nadu Dr. MGR Medical University, to file an amended prayer in his petition.

When the matter came up on Friday, the First Bench, comprising Chief Justice M.Y. Eqbal and Justice T.S. Sivagnanam, had posted it for Monday.

The petitioner had prayed the court to declare the selection of Dr. Sabarathinavelu for awarding the honorary degree as null and void.

The convocation was held on Saturday.

When the matter came up, the petitioner, G. Velu, filed an additional affidavit stating that he was in possession of more material to prove that the selection of Dr. Sabarathinavel was illegal and arbitrary. He said the university, without convening the Governing Council for discussing the merits and eligibility of the candidates whose names were selected for awarding the honorary degree of Doctor of Science, circulated an agenda containing six names initially.

Another agenda

At the last moment, another agenda was circulated among the governing council for approval.

Though three members had strongly deprecated the university's action of finalising the awardees list, the university proceeded further and conferred the honorary degrees on the selectees.

Out of the 11 members, only five members had no objection for selecting the Raj Bhavan doctor.

He himself had said he had no objection to getting an award.

The petitioner's senior counsel, S. Prabakaran, said there were grave illegalities in the selection and awarding of the honorary doctorates. Additional Advocate-General, P. Wilson, said the convocation was over and the petition had become infructuous. Counsel said his petition questioned the manner of conferment of the degrees. The Chief Justice said then the prayer in the petition should be amended.

At one stage, he orally observed that an honorary doctorate could not be conferred merely because the person concerned was the Governor's physician. Mr. Wilson said merely because Dr. Sabarathinavel was working at Raj Bhavan Dispensary did not mean that an eminent person should not be recognised.

Adjourned

The matter has been adjourned to January 12.

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