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Govt cites VC choice hurdles

Siliguri, Dec. 23: The chairman of the higher education council has said it will take at least three months to select a new vice-chancellor for North Bengal University and it was impossible to find a VC with 10 years of experience as professor for an interim period.

“I communicated the views of the stakeholders and suggested for immediate search of new VC. The matter was referred to the Hon’ble Chancellor. The process will take around three months and new court/council has to be installed for selecting a member of the search committee which will select the new VC. Although all of us here prefer an immediate change practically it is impossible to find a short-term VC with 10 years professorial experience outside NBU and willing to act knowing he/she will not be there after three months,” reads a mail from Sugata Marjit, the chairman of the West Bengal State Council of Higher Education.

The email (a copy of which is with The Telegraph) was sent to the North Bengal University Employees’ Association general secretary D.P. Boot on December 18. The mail was a reply to a plea to Marjit to stop the extension of VC Arunabha Basumajumdar’s tenure by three months, that is, till March 31 next year.

The state government, by an order on December 16, had granted an extension to Basumajumdar who was supposed to retire on December 31.

The varsity employees had been protesting the extension of Basumajumdar’s tenure saying he lacked the necessary qualification — 10 years’ experience as professor — according to the new ordinance promulgated for the varsity on November 4.

Under the new ordinance, the VC will be selected by a three-member search committee made up of a nominee of the UGC chairman, the chancellor and a court member. However, the varsity court is yet to be formed.

Asked about Marjit’s letter, Boot said: “It was a personal communication and I am unaware of how it reached you. Therefore I will not comment on this.” Boot also said the VC should not be allowed to join office if he faces an inquiry.

“We demand that the VC should not be allowed to join office if the state government initiates inquiry against him, for that is the process,” said Boot.

Basumajumdar yesterday had said he was willing to face any probe regarding the allegations of “administrative and financial irregularities” during his tenure.

Varsity registrar Dilip Sarkar, who was suspended by the VC, said if Basumajumdar was ready to face an inquiry, he must leave office.

“For the past four years there have been several charges of irregularities against the VC and demands have also been raised that they should be probed. If an inquiry is initiated against him, the VC should not be allowed to sit in office like me,” Sarkar said.

The registrar was suspended for alleged misappropriation of funds from the varsity’s confidential account on March 30, 2010. Although Calcutta High Court nullified his suspension in September this year, Basumajumdar had appealed against the verdict to the Supreme Court which stayed the order.

Around 300 of 480 employees have been on a sit-in at the varsity for past 40 days, demanding, among others, the revision of pay scales and promotion and recruitment of the next of kin of those who have died in harness.

They said the Executive Council had adopted a resolution on March 22 to fulfill the demands by July 31. The protesters say their demands will not be fulfilled as long as Basumajumdar remains in the post.