Speech fetters in draft rules

A six-member committee set up by the higher education department has drafted rules that propose to curb the freedom of university employees to make anti-government statements.

By Our special correspondent in Calcutta
  • Published 16.04.18
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Calcutta: A six-member committee set up by the higher education department has drafted rules that propose to curb the freedom of university employees to make anti-government statements.

The draft West Bengal Universities and Colleges (Administration and Regulations) Rules 2017 say, among other things, that "no employee of the university shall without the permission of the VC, publish anonymously or in his own name or in the name of any other person in the press or in the electronic media any document or make any statement of fact or opinion that has the effect of any adverse criticism of any current policy or action of the state government".

A member of the committee said a copy of the draft rules, framed in accordance with the West Bengal Universities and College (Administration and Regulations) Act, 2017, was handed over to the higher education department last week.

Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi, the chancellor of all state universities, has to approve the draft rules before the government issues a notification and makes them binding on all employees of colleges and universities.

The draft rules also seek to bar the publication by any university employee of any material that can embarrass the "relation between the state government and the central government or the government of any other state or any foreign state".

One of the proposed rules states "every college/university shall compulsorily maintain biometric system and principal/registrar will check monthly and will have to send quarterly report to the governing bodyhe administrator for its observation and habitual late attendance will call for appropriate disciplinary proceedings".

The draft rules also recommend that the transfer of college teachers be linked to their annual confidential reports and propose that every employee declare his or her annual assets by April 30 every year.

An official in the higher education department said the draft rules would be sent to the governor once the model of conduct was lifted after the end of the panchayat polls.

Repeated calls to education minister Partha Chatterjee on Sunday night went unanswered.