The governor on Sunday appointed officiating vice-chancellors of six more state-aided universities, triggering protest by education minister Bratya Basu.
Basu said they would seek to know from the Supreme Court whether the decision of the governor, who is ex officio chancellor of all state-aided universities, was “legally
tenable” at a time when the court has taken upon itself the task of appointing full-
term VCs through search committees.
The governor had earlier appointed 13 officiating — or interim — VCs, allegedly without consulting the state government.
Among the new appointees, five are academics and one is a retired IPS officer.
C.M. Raveendran, the retired IPS officer, has been appointed officiating VC of North Bengal University.
Achintya Saha will take over the reins of Murshidabad University, B.B. Parida of Mahatma Gandhi University in East Midnapore, Nikhil Chandra Ray of Coochbehar Panchanan Barma University, Rathin Bandyopadhyay of Alipurduar University and Dilip Maity of Biswa Bangla University.
The Supreme Court had on Wednesday asked the lawyers appearing for the Bengal government, Bengal governor and the UGC whether they would like to recommend names other than the ones they had suggested for inclusion in a court-appointed search committee for appointment of full-term VCs.
The state government had in August moved a special leave petition in the Supreme Court, challenging the chancellor’s authority to appoint officiating VCs without consulting the education department.
The apex court on Wednesday took exception to a remark made by a lawyer representing governor C.V. Ananda Bose that as chancellor of state-aided universities, his client had to intervene and appoint VCs because the state was being “destroyed” by the state government.
Reacting to the appointment of the officiating VCs, education minister Basu said: “It is up to the governor whether he wants to abide by the Supreme Court. The matter is sub judice. As the Supreme Court is hearing the case, we would definitely seek to know from the court whether such acts (the decision to appoint officiating VCs) was legally tenable.
As for the decision to appoint a retired IPS officer as VC, Basu said: “I doubt whether universities could be run by so many police officers. Creating this environment of a ‘cop university’ on academic campuses is not at all desirable.”
The governor had on July 20 entrusted M. Wahab, a retired IPS officer, with the responsibility of performing the duty of officiating VC of Aliah University.
Calls, text messages and emails from this newspaper to the chancellor failed to yield any response.
Advocate Susmita Saha Dutta, who appeared for the chancellor in the Supreme Court, defended Sunday’s appointments.
“There is no order of stay on the order passed by Calcutta High Court on the appointment of interim VCs by the chancellor. There is no order of status quo either. So if there is a vacancy, that can very well be filled with the appointment of an interim VC...,” she told Metro.
The high court had in June dismissed a PIL challenging the appointment of interim VCs in 13 universities by Bose.