Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Press Conference Held at Press Club on 26th June, 2010 Convened by Dr. Ajit Kumar Ray, Professor, NBU and Member of the Executive Council of North Bengal University, Darjeeling
Let us first clarify why this press conference has been called. From the reports being published in a section of the media from time to time, the readers are liable to form a partial and inadequate opinion of the current imbroglio in the University affecting both the administration and the academic environment, and hence this conference to help clear some of the confusion by presenting in particular my version of the same story in its essential details.
To begin with, as you are aware, a meeting of the Executive Council of the North Bengal University was convened on 23rd of this month. In the meeting I differed with the content of the agendum or with the intention/opinion of the Vice-Chancellor under item no-3 and item no-4. Let me clarify my position regarding item no-3 which was the main agendum and was itemized as follows:
To approve the action for placing Dr. Dilip Kumar Sarkar, Registrar and the then Controller of Examinations, University of North Bengal under suspension vide order no. F.39/VC-10/Sec/58 dated 30.3.10 under Section 10(6) of the NBU Act 1981 issued by the Vice-Chancellor, University of North Bengal.
There are several reports in the media which suggest that by refraining from giving opinion on this particular item in the agenda some members of the E.C. including myself have tried to protect Dr. D.K.Sarkar, who is implicated in the misuse of funds, and who is presently holding the post of the Registrar of the University. It needs a clarification as to why some of us who have been persistently demanding the enquiry and punishment of the guilty since 2007 in connection with the financial irregularities of a ‘criminal nature’, a fact that was subsequently corroborated by the Advocate General of the state, were forced by circumstances to refrain from approving the item as desired/crafted by the Chairman of the Executive Council.
The very issue of financial irregularities and corruption was initially raised by us in the N.B.U. Teachers’ Council and subsequently a resolution was passed demanding an enquiry and punishment of the guilty, if any, in 2007. About this, there were many reports published in the different dailies at that time. Unfortunately however no action was taken by the then Vice-Chancellor. After the present Vice-Chancellor joined on 1st January 2008, we were however happy when he initiated internal audit on 22nd July 2008 to verify the demand of the N.B.U.T.C. After it was done, at the end of the year, he again asked for a special audit on 13th December 2008. Finally a one-member investigating committee was constituted by him on 20th August 2009 to enquire into the matter and thus the third report made by the said committee was submitted on 7th November 2009. Without submitting any of these reports to the Executive Council barring a nominal mention of them, he sent all these reports to the Advocate General for his opinion. The University received the opinion of the Advocate General on 4th December 2009 wherein, on the basis of the first two reports, it was categorically stated: “The University has no option but to send the report to the Police to investigate whether money has been defalcated and if so by whom.” It is important to note that the advocate General stated in his report in no uncertain terms that “Police investigation may disclose criminal liability of the persons who may be involved in a conspiracy.” “The third report”, said the Advocate General “appears at places to be an attempt to gloss over serious omissions and commissions of criminal acts by a few officers of the University”. Accordingly he stated in no uncertain terms that “the University should take steps to unearth the offences committed by some officers of the University conspiring with other persons.” (emphasis added)
Even after receiving such a categorical opinion of the Advocate General, the Vice-Chancellor did neither place the reports nor allow discussion in the subsequent meeting of the EC till sufficiently long after the event on 8th March 2010. Under the circumstances we, a section of the teachers of the University, became apprehensive of whether the allegedly guilty officers involved in corruption would ever be brought to book. We, the members of the All Bengal University Teachers Association (ABUTA) therefore met formally in a meeting on 13th January 2010 at the North Bengal University to discuss this very important issue. The meeting noted the following:
In spite of repeated demand of the teaching community the authority did fail to place all such reports before the Executive Council for its consideration. At last the matter was decided to be discussed in the 253rd meeting of the Executive Council scheduled to be held on January 8, 2010 under Agendum no. 2 with a back-up note from the Vice-Chancellor. But in the meeting the reports were not placed and the Vice-Chancellor, as the Chairman of the Executive council (EC), did not allow any discussion on the item without providing any sensible explanation.”
The ABUTA therefore resolved to draw the attention of the Honourable Chancellor and seek his intervention “so that the three reports and related papers be placed immediately in the meeting of the EC for appropriate action and the reports be made available to all concerned.” The ABUTA accordingly wrote a letter to the Hon’ble Chancellor on 14th January 2010 soliciting his kind intervention, a copy of which was also forwarded to the Vice-Chancellor but to no avail.
However, on receiving the letter from the ABUTA, the Chancellor’s office lost no time to favourably respond to our request, and in their communication (Memo no. 179/1-SP) dated 8th February 2010, the Vice-Chancellor was asked to send his “comments over the matter for information of the Governor and Chancellor.” A copy of this memo was also forwarded to the Convener, NBU Chapter, ABUTA, for information.
The Vice-Chancellor in his turn did not care to respond to our letter as is usual with him. Of course on receiving a memo from the Chancellor he took only a month’s time to wake up from his slumber and convene a meeting of the EC on 8th March 2010 to consider the reports.
Since various proposals were mooted but no consensus was arrived at in the meeting, the Vice-Chancellor sent all papers on 11th March 2010 to the Chancellor ‘for his kind perusal and necessary direction in this matter’. The Hon’ble Chanellor advised the Vice-Chancellor vide his letter no. 557-SP dated 29th March 2010 –
To follow the Ld. Advocate General’s legal opinion in respect of lodging FIR against the concerned officials and Dr. D.K. Sarkar, present Registrar;…
On 30th March 2010, the Vice-Chancellor lodged an FIR only against Dr. D.K.Sarkar, sparing other officials in spite of Chancellor’s instructions to that effect. He also issued an order of suspension and stated:
“in exercise of the powers conferred upon me under North Bengal University Act, 1981, Dr. Dilip Kumar Sarkar, Registrar is hereby placed under suspension in terms of Clause 27 of University services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules 1975 with immediate effect”.
Interestingly enough, the rule that the Vice-Chancellor referred to, states that only ‘the appointing authority or any authority empowered by the Executive council of the University may place any employee of the University under suspension’ (Rule 27). When the alleged ‘culprit’ who was put under suspension approached the High Court for justice the Single Bench, citing the rule, in the interim order made the judgment on 13th May 2010 that “the order of suspension is without jurisdiction”. Since the suspension became infructuous, the Registrar rejoined in his office. After this, the Vice-Chancellor approached the Division Bench for a stay of the above, however on 20th May 2010 the Division Bench disposed of the stay and ordered that “by 30th June 2010 the Executive Council shall consider the question, whether the writ petitioner should be placed under suspension”. Meanwhile the University was asked by the Division Court to allow the Registrar to go on leave till the Executive Council of the University decided its course of action and, the writ came for final hearing on 1st July 2010.
It is thus that the last meeting of the Executive Council was convened to be held on 23rd June 2010, merely (!) 33 days after the judgment given by the Division Bench. And, the wonder of wonders, the agendum was inscribed –
To approve the action for placing Dr. Dilip Kumar Sarkar, Registrar and the then Controller of Examinations, University of North Bengal under suspension vide order no. F.39/VC-10/Sec/58 dated 30.3.10 under Section 10(6) of the NBU Act 1981 issued by the Vice-Chancellor, University of North Bengal.
Thus the item was not to consider the suspension of Dr. D. K. Sarkar as directed by the Division Bench of the High Court but to approve the very act of the Vice-Chancellor which is sub-judice and as observed by the Ld. Single Bench Judge beyond the jurisdiction of the Vice-Chancellor.
Moreover, should we remind ourselves once again that there existed no such suspension order no. F.39/VC-10/Sec/58 dated 30.3.10 under Section 10(6) of the NBU Act 1981 issued by the Vice-Chancellor, University of North Bengal. If ever did, it existed possibly in the wild imagination of a Vice-Chancellor supported only by comical cronies both within and outside. The agendum was put forward to take the whole of the Executive Council to a self-defeating course, and it deserved not only careful scrutiny but condemnation as well. Let us remember that on 30th March 2010, the suspension order was issued by the Vice-Chancellor under Rule 27 of the Service Rules instead. Since he was not authorized by the Executive Council to do so, he was pulled up by the High Court precisely on this ground. At one stage when the plea was made that the provisions of Section 10(6) of the NBU Act had authorized the Vice-Chancellor to act under emergency situation without consulting the Executive Council, the Bench did not fail to observe that “In the order of suspension however, there is no disclosure as to why this order of suspension was being issued in exercise of such emergency power and whether there was formation of opinion by the Vice-Chancellor that the matter involved such degree of urgency that it could not wait for consideration by the Council.”
I would request everybody to note that in the said agendum there was neither any reference of the court order nor did he place any relevent documents of the said court case in the meeting. After receiving the agenda paper on the 19th evening, I wrote a letter (e-mail) to the Vice-Chancellor requesting him to supply relevent papers of the court case which I did not get. Even when the meeting was going on I requested him several times to place High Court judgements which he refused to provide as official documents of the meeting. He neither allowed any member to refer the judgement in the discussion nor did he admit that the matter was sub-judice.
It was thus impossible to participate in the discussion and debates of the Council when the Vice-Chancellor persistently refused to place all the reports and papers in relation to the court cases, and was adamant on restricting the meeting to a either yes or no for his proposal. It was as clear as daylight that the Vice-Chancellor would have felt more comfortable with a captive council lacking in reasoning and foresight. Under these circumstances, on an item under sub-judice and with incomplete information and documents “I refrained from giving my opinion on item-3”.
With regard to the discussion of item no-4, I was of the opinion that the charges must be framed as per provision under Rule-26, which is the only provision under which an official can be punished, and not with the charges as framed by the Vice-Chancellor in the agendum-4. The Vice-Chancellor and the house agreed with my suggestion and the EC resolved to initiate disciplinary proceeding to frame charges under 26(a), 26(b), 26(d) and 26(j) against Dr. Sarkar by appropriate disciplinary authority. Moreover, it was my proposal that the disciplinary authority would also enquire the involvement of other officials/persons in this process of corruption and would report in the EC along with charges against Dr. Sarkar. This proposal of mine was accepted and included in the terms of references.
Lastly I would like to emphasise upon the following:
• There is little doubt that serious financial irregularities have been committed.
• It is clear from the three reports and opinion of the Ld. Advocate General that several officials are involved.
• I demand that names of other officials be included in the FIR immediately.
• There is every possibility that the legal lapses of the steps taken by the Vice-Chancellor may help the guilty to go scot free.
• The guilty may now be punished either by (i) criminal charges framed by the police properly, (ii) proper departmental enquiry and framing of charges under Rule 26 of University Services (Classification, Control & Appeal). In the context of punishing the guilty, item no-3 of 256th meeting of the EC which is being so much referred to in certain quarters of the media is of no consequence.

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