The higher education department is going to bring an ordinance to induct a UGC nominee into the search committees that will select full-term vice-chancellors for state-aided universities, sources in the department said.
Since the Assembly is not in session, the department has decided to bring an ordinance to bring about changes in the university act that will pave the way for the induction of the UGC nominee into the search committees.
If the Assembly had been in session such changes would be approved on the floor of the Assembly, said a senior official in the education department.
The other two members of the search committee would be the chancellor’s nominee and the respective university’s nominee.
After the Trinamul Congress assumed power in May 2011, the state government introduced acts mandating the formation of a search committee to appoint a VC which will comprise a nominee each from the chancellor, the UGC and the respective university.
But over the years the same government brought amendments replacing the UGC nominee with the state government’s nominee.
Education minister Bratya Basu during a recent joint news conference with Governor C.V. Ananda Bose, the ex-officio chancellor of state universities, had said they would constitute search committees and bring an amendment to the law governing the search committees.
Calcutta High Court on March 14 told the state government to “amend” its acts “preferably within a period of six months” to ensure that appointments to the post of vice-chancellor in state-aided universities are made in conformity with UGC Regulations 2018, which mandate that the search committees for the appointment of VCs must have a UGC nominee.
A division bench headed by then Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava issued the order while setting aside the re-appointment of 24 VCs on the ground that the re-appointments did not have the approval of the then governor and chancellor Jagdeep Dhankar.
The 24 vice-chancellors of the state-aided universities whose reappointment had been questioned by Dhankhar handed their resignation to his successor, C.V. Ananda Bose, in late February and early March and got a three-month extension with his approval.
“Before the expiry of their extended tenure by late May, the state government wants to constitute the search committee following what the court has ordered and the chancellor has insisted on — bringing in the UGC nominee into the search committee. Once the search committees are constituted the process of appointment of full-term VC will take shape,” said an education department official.
Calls and text messages to minister Basu went unanswered.
The extended tenure of Calcutta University’s interim VC Ashis Chatterjee and that of North Bengal University VC Om Prakash Mishra — the two were not among the list of 24 VCs — will end by the end of this month.
Three Universities — Maulana Abul Kalam Azad University of Technology, Netaji Subhas Open University and Dakshin Dinajpur University — don’t have VCs at present because the tenure of the VCs in these three campuses ended last month and no one has been appointed as replacements.
Sources in the department said the department is working on a plan to induct its nominee and the state higher education council’s nominee to the search committee, subject to the consent from the chancellor. “An ordinance can be notified only after the chancellor gives ascent to the draft. It is now for the chancellor to decide whether to include two more nominees,” said a source.