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Cloud over Presi teachers’ quit plea

The government’s decision to reject Presidency registrar Prabir Dasgupta’s application to quit the state education service and force him to join a government college has cast a cloud on the fate of 35 teachers who had made similar pleas.

The higher education department’s decision has also raised the question whether it could prevent any teacher of a government college from quitting the service, legal experts said.

Presidency was a government college before becoming university in 2011.

Post-upgrade, 40 of the 70-plus teachers of the erstwhile Presidency College and other government colleges had joined the College Street institution after the government allowed them to work at the “centre of excellence”.

The teachers, all members of the West Bengal Education Service, had to crack a test to become eligible to teach at Presidency University. After their jobs were confirmed, they offered to quit the service like registrar Dasgupta and continue at Presidency.

Five of the teachers have been allowed to quit the service, while the application of the rest are pending.

Dasgupta, an associate professor of the erstwhile Presidency College, had applied for the post of registrar in 2012 and got selected in May that year. The government had granted him a two-year lien from the education service, till June 5, 2014, to serve as registrar.

On June 4, he appealed to the government to allow him to quit the education service so he could continue as Presidency registrar.

But the higher education department rejected the application and asked Dasgupta to seek release from Presidency. He did so, following which the government asked him to join Durgapur Government College as associate professor.

The rejection of Dasgupta’s application has left the 35 teachers whose applications are pending on tenterhooks.

“The state government has struck down Dasgupta’s prayer on the grounds of shortage of teachers at government colleges. Our applications could be rejected, too, for similar reasons. If there is really a shortage of teachers, the higher education department should not have allowed anyone from a government college to join Presidency,” said an assistant professor, whose appeal is pending with the government.

A Calcutta High Court lawyer Metro spoke to wondered how the government could prevent one from quitting the education service after his or her job was confirmed by the university, an autonomous institution.

When asked whether a full-term university official like Dasgupta could be removed, Chatterjee retorted on Friday: “We are not going to discuss these issues with the media. Go and ask the official concerned about this.”

Dasgupta, however, declined comment.

When asked about the fate of the 35 teachers, Presidency VC Anuradha Lohia said: “We are worried as the university is short-staffed.” Sources said the university would request the education department not to ask these teachers to join any college.

Lawyers also challenged Chatterjee’s contention that a staff crunch had prompted the government to reject Dasgupta’s application.

“If that be the case, the minister should have asked the public service commission to fast-track recruitment and fill the vacancies. How can you remove a full-term university official and ask him to join a government college in the name of filling vacancies,” said a lawyer.