An impasse over the selection of dean has been preventing Calcutta University’s law department from taking major academic decisions for the past two years.
In the absence of a dean, the law department is not being able to recruit whole-time teachers and take decisions on academic matters, such as introduction of online admission and overhauling of the syllabus and the examination system.
Five out of 12 sanctioned whole-time teaching posts in the law department are vacant. An advertisement seeking applications for the posts was issued two years ago. “But no one has yet been appointed because the committee that selects the candidates cannot function in the absence of a dean,” said an official.
“Students are suffering because of over-dependence on guest lecturers and part-time teachers. Such teachers are practising lawyers and cannot come to classes regularly,” said a student.
The dean’s post has been lying vacant since 2012, after the Mamata Banerjee government passed the West Bengal University Laws (Amendment) Bill 2012 in an attempt to curb political interference in key academic appointments.
The bill, which has since become an act, stipulates appointment of vice-chancellors, deans and other key functionaries of universities through search committees. During the Left Front regime, the teachers of each faculty used to elect one of them as dean.
A university source has blamed the impasse on the appointment of dean on a feud between two pro-Trinamul members of the law faculty.
Under the new rules related to the eligibility of CU deans, the law faculty can only have an interim dean, not a full-fledged one with a three-year tenure.
“A senior teacher whose name has reportedly being recommended as interim dean of the law faculty belongs to one of the Trinamul camps. The other camp has made it clear to the authorities that they would not allow the teacher to function as dean. The threat has put the search panel in a fix, forcing it to delay the process of recommending a name for the post,” said the source.
However, Rabindra Bharati University vice-chancellor Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhuri, who heads the CU dean search panel, said the process of shortlisting names for the post is going on in full swing. “We will send our recommendation to the higher education department within this month,” said Basu Ray Chaudhuri.
The state government had set up the search committee to select the deans of Calcutta University 18 months ago.
In order to be eligible to become a dean, a teacher must be a professor and of age less than 57 years. The rules prevent a professor who has already held the post of dean from being selected for a second time.
A CU official said the law faculty has two professors, both of whom are above 57 years. Moreover, both have served as dean for two terms.
The CU statutes, however, have a clause which says if none of the professors in a faculty is below 57 years, the search panel could recommend the name of any of the senior teachers as interim dean.
The tenure of an interim dean, however, will be of six months.
Manik Bhattacharya, a member of the CU law faculty, said the faculty council had not interfered in the functioning of the search panel.