Calcutta, Oct. 1: A division bench of Calcutta High Court today categorically said it might ask the authorities to stop paying pension to Pabitra Sarkar, a former vice-chancellor of Rabindra Bharati University, if he does not produce original documents of his PhD degree.
Acting Chief Justice A.N. Roy and Justice A.K. Mitra fixed the matter for hearing at 2 pm on October 5 and asked Sarkar's lawyer, Nandini Mitra, to come to court with the document.
The Nationalist Democratic Teachers Association had moved a public interest litigation in Calcutta High Court a fortnight ago demanding penal action against Sarkar for 'cheating the government, universities, as well as students' by claiming to be a doctorate without a proper degree from the University of Chicago.
The petitioner also urged the court to direct the authorities to immediately stop paying Sarkar pension and appealed for a probe into his PhD controversy.
The court had admitted the petition and passed an order directing Sarkar, who is also a former reader of Jadavpur University, to produce his academic certificates. The case was to be heard today.
But the matter was not included in the daily list of hearings. Ajit Panja, the petitioners' lawyer, mentioned the matter before the division bench of the acting chief justice and demanded an immediate hearing. The bench then fixed the matter to be placed for hearing at 2 pm today.
However, when the case came up for hearing, Sarkar's lawyer prayed for time as her senior, Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya, was not in the city. The court granted Sarkar two days to produce his certificate and warned that if he does not it would direct the government to stop paying his pension.
At Jadavpur University, a section of teachers threatened to launch a movement against the decision by the authorities to give Sarkar a clean chit.
A high court advocate appointed by the varsity had earlier suggested that the university ask Sarkar why he had not submitted the required documents at the time of his appointment.
Sarkar was allegedly appointed to the post of reader in the varsity's Bengali department in 1975 without producing his doctorate degree.
'It appears from the filled in application of Sarkar that he had cited PhD as one of his degrees. The documents enclosed along with the said application contained proof of all the degrees he cited except the PhD. The list of documents did not show any proof regarding his PhD degree,' observed the advocate in his submission in writing to the university's executive council last week.
Academicians who know Sarkar echoed his claim ' that he earned the doctorate in 1975 but did not receive the certifying document as he had not completed certain formalities. 'He was awarded the PhD only at the summer convocation of the Chicago University this August. It reached him last month,' one of them said.