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West Bengal Education Ministry welcomes SC order to form panel to appoint V-Cs

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West Bengal Education Ministry welcomes SC order to form panel to appoint V-Cs

State teacher’s association voice concern over political leaders having ultimate say over academic hiring

West Bengal State Education Minister Bratya Basu welcomed the Supreme Court order to form a committee to appoint West Bengal University Vice-Chancellors. In a post on social media platform X, he said this is a win for democracy. The appointment of V-Cs has been an ongoing debate between the West Bengal Governor and the government and both parties failed to reach any resolution before.

In the order passed by Supreme Court on July 8 (Monday), it has ordered the constitution of a separate or joint search-cum-selection committee to fast-track the V-C appointment in Bengal. The committee will be headed by former Chief Justice of India U.U. Lalit (chairperson) and will be constituted within two weeks.

The chairperson will head every search-cum-selection committee which will comprise five members. Each committee will provide a list of three shortlisted names for each university and the whole operation is to be completed within three months, said the top court on Monday.

In his post on social media, Education Minister Basu wrote, “#Democracy wins again” showing his support for the decision and welcomed the move by the top court.

The political divide between the Governor C.V. Ananda Bose and State government hit rocky grounds on multiple accounts over the past year, including the appointment of V-Cs. Mr. Bose in his capacity as Chancellor to State-run universities had previously appointed interim V-Cs for 13 universities and Calcutta High Court had upheld his decision. West Bengal State government challenged the Calcutta High Court decision at the Supreme Court. The top court gave the verdict on Monday to form the special committee to break the deadlock.

Reacting to the verdict, Jadavpur University Teachers Association (JUTA) general secretary, Partha Pratim Roy said, “The SC verdict is not very clear as to who will be part of the search-cum-selection committee. But as a member of the teacher’s association, I feel the decision to hire V-Cs still lies with the Chief Minister or Governor. Political people have the last say. But in case of academics, the hiring decision should come from academic people who have a better understanding of the working.”

Mr. Roy also pointed out that the delayed hiring of V-Cs has led to a lot of logistical issues for all universities across West Bengal. He said that they no longer want an interim V-C because such turmoil leads to policies being stuck and major decisions staying pending for ages.

The Educationists’ Forum member, Professor Omprakash Mishra said, “Cutting through the illegalities imposed by the Chancellor on the higher education sector of West Bengal, Hon’ble Supreme Court has today (Monday) affirmed the principle of fair selection through due process. The Educationists’ Forum welcomes the order.”

The order to form the search-cum-selection committee comes as a move to resolve the longstanding issue of hiring V-Cs in West Bengal State universities. While some teacher’s associations stay concerned about the hiring process, some welcomed the move.

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