In a bid to clearly define the authority of the Chancellor in matters of higher education, Governor Devanand Konwar has issued a circular to all Vice-Chancellors (VCs) of the State, outlining the jurisdiction of the Rajbhavan in the academic as well as administrative matters.
Citing sub-sections 7(2) and 8 of Section 76(9) of the Bihar State Universities Act, 1976, the circular issued by Deputy Secretary, Raj Bhawan, K B Sahni, clearly states: “The power to issue orders and guidelines with regard to academic and administrative affairs concerning universities is vested in the Chancellor.”
Continuing further, it says: “The VCs, statutory officers and university officials will now onwards comply with orders and guidelines issued by the Raj Bhawan only. Beyond this, they are not bound to abide by directions and guidelines issued by anyone without jurisdiction and authority.”
According to sources, the Chancellor issued the circular after carefully studying the provisions in the two Acts governing the universities in Bihar. He also sought legal opinion on the matter. This is the first time any Chancellor has issued such a circular to reaffirm his authority in university matters.
The circular was sent to all VCs in the State on October 17. Though many of them are yet to go through it due to the ongoing Puja holidays in universities, they are all aware of it.
The circular is significant as it comes as a setback to Human Resources Development Department’s recent attempts to play a more active role in university affairs.
The circular has, however, left financial affairs for the Government to handle. The Government gives around Rs 800 crore annual grant to nine universities of the State..
Konwar had earlier told HT during an interview that he would not allow any infringement on the authority of the Chancellor or erosion of autonomy of universities in any way.
“There is a clear demarcation of responsibility and authority in the Acts and Statutes governing the universities. Nobody should try to overstep the limits for that will only lead to confusion,” he said, adding he would issue guidelines to all the VCs.
Incidentally, in the last couple of months, the state Human Resources Department had issued several orders related to academic activities. HRD Secretary K K Pathak had sought details of the examination calendars from the universities and directed them to complete the examination process by December 31. The HRD secretary recently directed two universities to suspend two teachers and lodge FIRs against them and lodged a case against Magadh University VC on the charges of non-cooperation in auditing.
The Chancellor’s office had to intervene after several delegations of teachers’ associations called on the Chancellor, seeking his intervention to prevent interference in academic and administrative matters of the universities.
As for the new developments, a couple of VCs said that they would now onwards refer HRD’s directives to the Rajbhavan for guidelines. “The circular says it all. We have to first abide by what the Chancellor’s office says,” they stressed.