West Bengal Governor CV Ananda Bose has welcomed the Supreme Court's verdict on the role of the governor, who is the ex-officio chancellor of state-run universities, in the appointment of vice-chancellors, asserting the apex court has clarified the legal position of the chancellor in the matter.
The Supreme Court, while hearing a case pertaining to the reappointment of Kerala's Kannur University vice chancellor, said the governor is not a mere titular head and in the selection of VCs, he is the sole judge and his opinion is final in all respects. By virtue of his office as the ex-officio chancellor, he is not bound to act under the advice of the council of ministers.
"The Supreme Court has clarified the legal position of the chancellor in the appointment of VCs... the Chancellor is the authority to appoint VCs. The court made it very clear that the state government of any state should keep off university administration, particularly in the appointment of VCs," Bose told reporters here on Friday.
Bose has locked horns with the West Bengal government over the appointment of vice-chancellors of several state-run universities, with the higher education department claiming the orders appointing VCs were illegal as the governor had not consulted the department before making the appointments.
Referring to the termination of VCs of certain universities in West Bengal, Bose said they were recruited by the state by not following the proper process.
"I gave them the option to resign and told them that if you opt not to resign then as the chancellor, I have the option to terminate you. But I will again go through the process. I will give a notice. The VCs met together for some time and told me gracefully that they would resign. The education minister was also there," he added.
Bose said he could not give an extension to VCs as suggested by the state government because he found them not eligible.
"To allow certain VCs to continue because I had my assessment about them and that was not very positive. So, I accepted two or three names suggested by the government and appointed others based on certain criteria depending on seniority, eligibility, and suitability," he said.
"Now, again certain decisions taken by the Chancellor of Bengal were under litigation. I did not want to go into that... I follow a policy -- follow the law, avoid controversies stick to the decision, and make others understand the logic of taking such a decision," he said.
The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Attorney General (AG) for India R Venkataramani to use his "good offices" for amicable appointment of vice-chancellors in several state-run universities of West Bengal following a bitter tussle between the Mamata Banerjee government and Governor C V Ananda Bose over how the state's universities should be run.
A bench headed by Justice Surya Kant emphasised that only persons of eminence should be appointed as vice-chancellors and asked the AG to hold a meeting with all stakeholders to resolve the issue.
In October, the court had stayed the emoluments of the newly appointed interim vice-chancellors and asked the governor to sit with the chief minister "over a cup of coffee" to resolve the deadlock over the appointment of VCs.
It had said there was a need for reconciliation between the governor and the chief minister "in the interest of educational institutions and the future careers of lakhs of students".
On September 27, the apex court had sought names of eminent personalities including scientists, technocrats, administrators, educationists and jurists for setting up a search committee for shortlisting and appointing VCs in state-run universities.
Taking note of the running feud between the state and the office of the governor on the issue, the top court had said on September 15 it would set up a search committee to pick VCs.
Earlier, the Calcutta High Court had held the chancellor has the power to appoint VCs as laid down in relevant enactments.
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