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Calcutta HC seeks report on Bengal govt ordinance on rejigged V-C appointment norms

PUNJAB NEWS LINE | June 19, 2023 04:46 PM

KOLKATA: A division bench of Calcutta High Court's Chief Justice T.S. Sivagnanam on Monday sought a report from the West Bengal government on the latter's recent ordinance rejigging the formation of the search committees meant for appointment of vice chancellors in the state universities.

The division bench sought the report after hearing a public interest litigation (PIL)challenging the recent ordinance of the West Bengal government rejigging the constitution of the search committees.

In the PIL filed by Sushmita Saha Dutta, a counsel of the Calcutta High Court by profession, she has specially challenged the decision to omit the provision of the state university concerned having a representative in the search committee even though the vice chancellors are appointed for the same university.

On Monday, the petitioner argued that simply by numerical supremacy in the rejigged search committees, the state government would be able to push their confident candidates as vice chancellors instead of doing it on merit-basis. She also argued that even the Governor, as the chancellor of the state universities, will virtually have no say in the matter.

"There is no scope for nepotism in the appointments of vice chancellors in state universities. Such appointments should be done as per the guidelines of the University Grants Commission. The state government has illegally maintained numerical supremacy in representation in the search committee," the petitioner has argued.

Arguing on behalf of the state government, the state advocate general S.N. Mukhopadhyay said that the appointment of vice chancellors are made on the basis of UGC laid down norms irrespective of who are the representatives in the search committees.

Finally, at the end of the hearing on Monday the division bench asked the state government to submit a report in the matter to court and also directed the state government to inform the petitioner if any further step is taken as regards to the search committee.

On May 15, the state government issued the ordinance making changes in the formation of search committees. However, the change has created a major controversy as in the new system, the state university, for which a Vice Chancellor will be appointed, will not have any representative in the search committee.

As per the ordinance, the five-member search committee will have one representative nominated by the Chief Minister, one by the state Education Department, one by the state Higher Education Council, one by the University Grants Commission (UGC) and one by the Governor, who by virtue of the post, is also the Chancellor of all state universities.

In the earlier system there was a three-member search committee with one representative nominated by the state Education Department, one by the state university concerned and one by the Governor.

 
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