Bengal governor appoints 10 V-Cs, TMC govt terms decision ‘illegal’
West Bengal Governor CV Ananda Bose appointed 10 senior professors as vice-chancellors of state-run universities, leading to a standoff with the TMC government, which called the move "illegal". The education minister has urged the professors to refuse the appointments and is seeking legal opinion. The Calcutta high court recently overturned the state government's extension of the tenure of 29 V-Cs, citing University Grants Commission regulations that require appointment on the recommendation of a search committee comprising UGC, the governor and the state.
West Bengal governor CV Ananda Bose on Thursday appointed 10 senior professors as vice-chancellors of as many state-run universities, in a fresh standoff between the Raj Bhavan and the Trinamool Congress (TMC) government, which termed the move “illegal”, according to education department officials.
The governor, who is also the chancellor of all 31 state-run universities, met the 10 senior professors earlier this week before taking the decision on Thursday, a Raj Bhavan official said, requesting anonymity.
There was no official statement from the Raj Bhavan on the appointment of V-Cs.
State’s education minister Bratya Basu, however, termed the move “illegal” and urged the professors to “refuse the appointments”.
“I came to know of the appointments from a section of the media. V-Cs were appointed at 10 universities in violation of the laid down process. The education department was kept out. This is completely illegal,” Basu said in a tweet.
“We are seeking legal opinion to decide our next course of action,” he added. “The V-Cs appointed illegally are being requested on behalf of the higher education department to refuse the appointments.”
According to education department officials, tenure of 29 V-Cs ended last year, following which their services were extended till May 31. The extension was ordered following meetings between the state government and the governor at Raj Bhavan on February 28 and March 1. Recently, the state government started the process to form search committees to select new V-Cs, officials said.
However, the Calcutta high court on March 14 overturned the extension order, saying the state had no power to appoint, re-appoint or extend tenure of V-Cs.
In its order, the court cited the University Grants Commission’s 2018 regulations that said V-Cs should be appointed on the recommendation of a search committee comprising representatives of UGC, the governor and the state.
“The court passed the order after hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the validity of amendments in appointment rules in 2012 and 2014 brought in by the state government,” an education department official said, requesting anonymity.
The 2014 amendment excluded UGC from the appointment process.
A bill seeking to make the chief minister the chancellor of all state-run universities, replacing the governor, was passed by the assembly last year. The West Bengal University Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2022 is pending with the governor’s office for clearance.
The bill was not cleared by former governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, now the Vice-President of India, with whom the TMC government had an acrimonious relation.