Will set up search committee for appointment of VCs in West Bengal universities: SC

The Supreme Court Friday said it will set up a search committee for shortlisting and appointing vice-chancellors in 13 state-run universities of West Bengal and asked the governor, the state government and the UGC to suggest three to five names for each of them.

The top court was hearing the appeal of the West Bengal government against the June 28 order of the Calcutta High Court which said there was no illegality in the orders issued by the West Bengal governor appointing interim vice-chancellors in 11 state-run universities in his capacity as ex-officio chancellor of these institutions.

The Mamata Banerjee government and Governor C V Ananda Bose are locked in a bitter tussle over how the state’s universities should be run.

A bench comprising justices Surya Kant and Dipankar Datta took note of the fact that the state government’s Bill on appointment of VCs was pending approval of the governor. It said the court itself will form a search committee.

“The court has directed the office of the governor, the state government and the University Grants Commission to give three to five names for consideration of the bench for the search committee by September 25,” advocate Subhasish Bhowmick, who appeared for the office of the governor, said.

The court will hear the plea again on September 27.

Earlier, the high court had held that the chancellor has the power to appoint vice-chancellors as it has been laid down in relevant enactments.

Sanat Kumar Ghosh, a petitioner who moved the high court,

and the West Bengal government claimed the orders appointing vice-chancellors to the state-run universities were illegal as the higher education department was not consulted by governor Bose before making such appointments.

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The petitioner had alleged that contrary to the proposal put forth by the higher education minister, the chancellor made a series of appointments of vice-chancellors without any consultation with him.

The high court had said when the final decision rested with the governor, the appointing authority of the vice-chancellors, the manner, mode or method of consultation has to be left to him and that the consultee cannot dictate terms to the chancellor about what mode or methodology was to be adopted.

The universities where interim vice-chancellors were appointed on June 1 include the University of Calcutta, University of Kalyani and Jadavpur University.

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