Education minister Bratya Basu on Tuesday said the arrest of a vice-chancellor was “unprecedented” and that he would seek the chief minister’s advice on what to do now.
North Bengal University (NBU) vice-chancellor Subires Bhattacharyya was arrested by the CBI on Monday for alleged corruption in recruitments for government-aided schools during his tenure as chairman of the state school service commission.
In response to a question whether a new VC would be appointed for NBU since the incumbent has been arrested, Basu said: “We have not taken any decision. We need to consult the chief minister about this. I have sought her appointment. This is an unprecedented situation. It has never happened before. Let me speak to the chief minister.”
When asked how he would describe VC Bhattacharya’s arrest, Basu said: “He has not been arrested as VC. Since the court is monitoring the case, I should not comment.”
Basu was speaking to reporters at Netaji Subhas Administrative Training Institute in Salt Lake, which he visited to attend a programme.
Bhattacharyya, who was chairman of the commission from 2014 to 2018 before being appointed vice-chancellor of NBU, was arrested in connection with the allegedly illegal appointment of assistant teachers for classes IX and X in government-aided schools.
He stands accused of manipulation of the scores of various candidates before the panel of selected candidates was prepared, a CBI officer said.
A VC of another university said Basu was right in describing the arrest of Bhattacharyya as “unprecedented” because never before a serving vice-chancellor of a state university had been arrested on corruption charges.
“Former Visva-Bharati vice-chancellor Dilip Sinha was sentenced to five years in jail in February 2019 along with former registrar Dilip Mukherjee and Mukti Deb, ex-lecturer in the university’s mathematics department, for attesting the teacher’s forged degrees and allowing her to stay in the job for five years,” the VC said.
Sinha was VC of the central university from 1995 to 2001. He was arrested in 2004.
When asked about Calcutta University, which does not have a VC after Calcutta High Court last week removed Sonali Chakravarti Banerjee from the post, Basu said: “The issue of Calcutta University is sub-judice in the Supreme Court. We have not discussed it yet.”
The high court had on September 15 set aside the education department’s decision to re-appoint Chakravarti Banerjee as VC of Calcutta University and said the order of re-appointment “has no legal force and is void in the eyes of law and non-existent”.
The state government has appealed against the order in the Supreme Court.