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Bengal Governor Calls JU EC's Decision to Defer Convocation Invalid, Asks VC to Go Ahead with Event

The governor wrote to JU Vice-Chancellor Suranjan Das and asked him to go ahead with the programme and ignore the EC resolution, failing which there would be serious consequences.

Sujit Nath | News18.com

Updated:December 22, 2019, 9:12 PM IST
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Bengal Governor Calls JU EC's Decision to Defer Convocation Invalid, Asks VC to Go Ahead with Event
File photo of West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar.

Kolkata: A day after the Jadavpur University’s Executive Council (EC) decided to defer the ‘Convocation Programme’ scheduled to be held on December 24, Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar termed the EC’s resolution illegal and invalid.

The governor, who is also the chancellor of state-run universities, wrote to JU Vice-Chancellor Suranjan Das and asked him to go ahead with the programme and ignore the EC resolution, failing which there would be serious consequences.

Invoking his powers under provisions of Section 17 of the Universities Act, Dhankar turned the EC’s move as illegal and said the decision-making body had no power to act in the way it did.

“Vide your communication dated December 21, 2019, you have referred to me as Chancellor of JU following resolution taken by the Executive Council in its meeting of December 21, 2019. It was informed that the ‘Convocation Programme’ of December 24, 2019, as decided earlier was deferred.

“A question has thus arisen as to ‘whether the Executive Council has acted in accordance with the powers conferred on it by or under the Act’ in passing the afore-stated resolution. I thus invoke the power reposed in me as Chancellor in terms of proviso to Section 17 of the Act.

“After having bestowed considered focus on this aspect I am constrained to conclude that the EC has no powers whatsoever to act as above. There is no stipulation to this effect in the Act that imparts any competence to the EC. The EC has not acted in accordance with the powers conferred on it by or under the Act. I thus direct the Vice Chancellor that the EC resolution dated December 21, 2019, not being in accordance with the powers conferred on it by or under the Act is bereft of any competence or legal sanction and thus nullify in law. Such a resolution of the EC thus cannot be acted upon. As Vice Chancellor you are obliged to proceed ahead ignoring this EC resolution dated December 21, 2019,” the letter read.

“Please note that any disregard entails serious consequences for the concerned. It should be noted that under Statute 104 clause (a) and (b) the Convocation date has to be with the approval of the Chancellor and Chancellor presides over the Convocation. Such a decision has already been taken by me as Chancellor and conveyed to you. The EC has outrageously overstepped its jurisdictional competence in being judgmental about Chancellor’s decision.”

On Saturday, Dhankar had expressed his dismay after being informed that the university has decided to put its special convocation on hold. He said no decision can be taken about the event can be taken without the approval of the Chancellor.

He said, "Systematically, they (state government) are trying to curb the chancellor." In another tweet, he claimed that non-state actors, backed by the administration, were behind the programme cancellations at educational institutes.

Recently, West Bengal government, which the governor has been at loggerheads over several issues, had clipped Dhankhar’s power as the chancellor of state universities.

The new law has been framed as per Section 17 of the West Bengal Universities and College (Administration and Regulation) Act, 2017 and the official gazette in this regard has been tabled in the Assembly.

Accordingly, it will not be mandatory to seek the governor’s permission to call a senate meeting (highest decision-making bodies in universities) and in selecting candidates for honorary degrees at convocations.

This would allow vice-chancellors to call meetings of their highest decision-making bodies in consultation with the higher education department, and not the chancellor, as was the practice.

According to the new law, every communication, proposed to be made by the chancellor to any state-aided University, will also have to be routed through the (higher education) department.

Earlier in the day, Dhankar took to Twitter to state the new law prevented "free, fearless access to chancellor".

The governor termed the legislation, endorsed by the Assembly on December 10, as "unconstitutional", asking everyone to take note of the situation.

"Under new mechanism all communications of VCs to Chancellor have to be routed through Secretary of Department. Difficult to figure our (out) its rationale. Free fearless access to Chancellor compromised.

"This is ex facie (on the face of it) unconstitutional. Time for all to take a call of convenience!" he wrote.

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| Edited by: Sohini Goswami
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