File weekly reports, follow do’s and dont’s: Bengal governor's letter to VCs | Kolkata - Hindustan Times
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File weekly reports, follow do’s and dont’s: Bengal governor's letter to VCs

Apr 07, 2023 08:28 PM IST

On June 13 last year, the state assembly passed the West Bengal University Laws (Amendment) Bill 2022 which sought to make the CM the chancellor of all universities in place of the governor

West Bengal governor C V Ananda Bose has asked vice-chancellors of all 31 state-run universities to submit weekly activity reports and follow a set of do’s and don’ts, state education department officials said.

West Bengal Governor C V Ananda Bose (Twitter/@BengalGovernor)
West Bengal Governor C V Ananda Bose (Twitter/@BengalGovernor)

The governor, who also is the Chancellor of all state-run universities directed the VCs to take “no action having major financial implications without consent from Raj Bhawan.”

Issued on April 4, the letter said the VCs were free to meet the governor and interact with two Raj Bhawan officials through phone and email over the matter.

Also Read: TMC leader, wife, daughter killed in Bengal’s Cooch Behar district: Police

The letter from Raj Bhawan also triggered a controversy with state education minister Bratya Basu saying that the letter has “no legal validity.”

“There is no legal provision for issuing such a letter. The higher education department has sought legal opinion. I will request the governor to withdraw the letter. It is not morally correct as well.

The universities are autonomous bodies. The letter affects their image,” Basu said.

He added, “Raj Bhawan and the state government are not competitors. They cooperate with each other in governance. We were completely unaware that such a letter was being issued. The governor can take an action after discussion (with the state).”

The letter has brought under focus the acrimonious relationship the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) had with former governor Jagdeep Dhankhar who is now the Vice President of India.

The TMC had accused Dhankhar of interfering in the day-to-day affairs of state-run universities and overstepping his limit by summoning vice-chancellors to Raj Bhawan bypassing the government.

According to officials, in December 2019, the higher education department officially instructed all vice-chancellors not to interact with the governor.

The development comes in the backdrop of the state government reversing its earlier decision to make chief minister Mamata Banerjee the chancellor of state universities.

On June 13 last year, the state assembly passed the West Bengal University Laws (Amendment) Bill 2022 which sought to make the CM the chancellor of all universities in place of the governor.

The bill was sent to Raj Bhawan for Dhankhar’s assent without which it could not have become a law. However, it was sent back citing technical reasons. The TMC did not raise the issue after Dhankhar’s term came to an end in July 2022.

Meanwhile, the new controversy surrounding Raj Bhawan’s role in the higher education department has prompted the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the state’s principal opposition force, to back Bose.

Samik Bhattacharya, Bengal BJP’s chief spokesperson, said, “As chancellor, the governor has all the right to monitor the universities and interact directly with vice-chancellors.”

Also Read: Row over Tamil Nadu governor’s remarks on Sterlite protests

He alleged that the state education department is drawing flak because of the bribe-for-job scam that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) are probing under a high court order.

“Bose has taken the right step because TMC wants to run the universities autocratically,” Bhattacharya added.

TMC Lok Sabha member and retired professor Saugata Roy said, “It is good to see the governor taking interest in the universities but we must bear in mind that he is not an elected representative of the people. The governor’s activities should not interfere with the powers of an elected government.”

Education is a subject in the Concurrent List of the Constitution’s Seventh Schedule, which effectively means both the Union and the state have powers to bring legislation on the subject. In case of a conflict, the Centre’s law prevails.

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