Visva Bharati vice-chancellor Sushanta Dattagupta has submitted his resignation, after the government accused him of financial and administrative irregularities, to President Pranab Mukherjee, reports said on Thursday.
NDTV reported Dattagupta emailed his resignation to the President’s office Wednesday evening, a few days after the ministry of human resources development made damning observations about his conduct as the head of the institution.
The ministry said it has received the letter from the President’s secretariat but would insist on a written letter from the 68-year-old VC as email correspondence is not admissible, PTI quoted unnamed sources as saying.
The HRD ministry had set up a committee to probe allegations against Duttagupta after Congress MP P Bhattacharya raised the issue of alleged irregularities in Parliament. Bhattacharya had accused the V-C of appointing a controller of examinations despite having no powers to do so and sanctioned key posts in violation of the Visva Bharati Act.
He was also accused of drawing a salary from Visva Bharati and pension from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) simultaneously in an alleged violation of the law. Under the law, he should have got his pension deducted from the salary he received from Visva Bharati.
The inquiry was conducted by justice Sakharam Singh Yadav, former judge of Allahabad high court, B Data, chairperson of Sri Aurobindo Institute of Indian Culture in Shillong, and Dilip K Chakrabarti, professor of South Asian archaeology, University of Cambridge, and a member of Indian Council of Historical Research.
The committee submitted its report to the ministry on March 27. After which the vice-chancellor was asked to submit his response on the charges framed by the three-member panel. NDTV quoted unnamed sources as saying that Dattagupta’s response did not satisfy the government.
He has reportedly claimed that he was being victimised by the new government and the enemies he made while serving as the university V-C.
Reports said the HRD ministry had sent its final report, which found him guilty of gross misconduct and dereliction of duty, to the President last week. The President had returned the file on September 23 recommending his sacking and asked it to seek a legal opinion before any decision can be taken.
Though the existing laws relating to Central Universities do not provide for sacking of a vice chancellor, the President can invoke section 16 of the General Clauses Act, 1987, to remove him.
The act empowers the appointing authority to suspend or dismiss any person appointed under a Central act or regulation.
Dattagupta’s name was considered for the Padma Shri in 2014, but he was not given the honour after the West Bengal Commission for Women objected to it over allegations of sexual harassment against him in the past.
In 2005, Dattagupta was accused of sexually harassing a female scientist as the then director of the Satyendra Nath Bose National Centre for Basic Sciences.
He has repeatedly denied the allegations.
If his resignation is accepted, Duttagupta could be first vice-chancellor of the Central university to be asked to step down. He was appointed the V-C in 2011 by the UPA-II government and still had a year left in his tenure.
(With agency inputs)