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West Bengal trims guv’s powers, cuts direct access to universities

TNN|
Dec 11, 2019, 11.21 AM IST
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West Bengal
West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar

Highlights

  • It comes a week after governor Jagdeep Dhankhar’s Calcutta University visit, when he expressed his “dismay” over the no-show by the university vice-chancellor, registrar and other senior officials.
  • State education minister Partha Chatterjee insisted there was no move to “curb the governor’s power”. “Please do not mistake conventions for rules.”
(This story originally appeared in on Dec 11, 2019)
KOLKATA: The West Bengal government notified on Tuesday new rules governing the interaction between the chancellor’s (or governor’s) office and vice-chancellors. The chancellor cannot intervene in the day-to-day affairs of universities, nor can he advise university officials directly, the new rules state. All communication between the chancellor and senior university officials will also have to be routed through the state higher education department.

Tuesday’s gazette notification — putting the state government between the chancellor’s office and vice-chancellors — caps three months of back and forth between Raj Bhavan and the Bengal government, starting with governor Jagdeep Dhankhar’s visit to the Jadavpur University campus to “rescue” Union minister of state Babul Supriyo from student protesters. It comes a week after governor Jagdeep Dhankhar’s Calcutta University visit, when he expressed his “dismay” over the no-show by the university vice-chancellor, registrar and other senior officials.

State education minister Partha Chatterjee insisted there was no move to “curb the governor’s power”. “Please do not mistake conventions for rules.” Dhankhar himself did not respond to queries from TOI on the changes.

The new “rules” that the minister spoke about became effective from Tuesday with the state government notifying them under the West Bengal University & College (Administration & Regulation) Act two years after the law was promulgated in 2017. They do not leave any room for the chancellor’s direct intervention in university affairs; the chancellor may write to the government or seek clarification on university matters but cannot advise university officials on his own. The rules under Section 5(9) of the act also specify that all applications for leave by vice-chancellors and pro-vice-chancellors should now be made to the higher education department.

All proposals for conferring D.Litt and D.Sc degrees during university convocations will now have to be sent to the state government for concurrence; the government will then send these lists to the chancellor for “confirmation”. The chancellor may preside over meetings of the university’s highest policy-making bodies (court or senate) but he would not have any power to amend the list of awardees once the state government puts a stamp on the university’s proposals, officials said.

State university officials now are also under no compulsion to take direct orders from the chancellor over the daily running of the universities. They would be accountable to the government.

V-Cs are also under no obligation to call court or senate meetings in consultation with the chancellor; they will, instead, have to intimate the education department.

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