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SC appoints ex-CJI U U Lalit as head of panel for appointment of vice-chancellors in Bengal varsities

The ruling Trinamool Congress dispensation in West Bengal has a running feud with Governor C V Ananda Bose, who is also the chancellor of state-run universities, over how the universities should be run.
Last Updated : 08 July 2024, 15:00 IST

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday appointed former Chief Justice of India U U Lalit as chairman of the Search-cum-Selection Committees for appointment of Vice Chancellors in all state universities in West Bengal.

A bench of Justices Surya Kant and K V Vishwanathan noted the "rift" between the TMC government and the Governor, who is also the chancellor of state-run universities. The differences have created "stalemate" and "chaos" over how the universities should be run, felt the apex court.

The controversy before the court was related to appointment of Vice Chancellors in 35 state universities.

"The rift between the state government, on the one hand, and the Governor of West Bengal, who happens to be the Chancellor of subject Universities, on the other, is the root cause of stalemate in the appointment of regular Vice-Chancellors. To elaborate further, there is no consensus between the two sets of authorities in the matter of constitution and composition of Search Committees for shortlisting the candidates for appointment as Vice Chancellors," the bench said.

The court found that the chaos has further deepened as neither there are regular Vice Chancellors nor interim or ad-hoc ones are permitted to be appointed.

By invoking its power under Article 142 of the Constitution, the bench also nominated eminent educationists, scientists, jurists, subject experts and administrators etc for the purpose of empanelment on committee.

"We resolve to constitute Search-cum-Selection Committee(s) of the same composition so as to avoid any confusion, irrespective of the fact that the relevant provision of the Statute of the concerned University may contain slight variations," the bench said.

"Our endeavour is to infuse transparency, independence, fairness, and impartiality so as to ensure that the persons possessing the highest level of competence and integrity and are capable of leading the University by example are shortlisted," the bench added.

The court directed the Search Committee to endeavour to complete their task within three months.

The bench said recommendations made by the Search-cum-Selection Committee, duly endorsed by the Chairperson, shall be put up before the Chief Minister (and not the Minister-in -charge of a Department) for necessary consideration. The Chief Minister shall be entitled to recommend the shortlisted names in order of preference for appointment as Vice Chancellors, the bench said.

The court directed the Chancellor on the receipt of record from the Chief Minister of the State, to appoint the Vice Chancellors out of the empaneled names, in the same order of preference as recommended by the Chief Minister of the State.

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Published 08 July 2024, 15:00 IST

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