Two teachers of government colleges in West Bengal are in the line of fire for allegedly criticising the state government on television shows without official permission.
The education department has slapped notice on both, asking them why action would not be taken against them.
Debashis Sarkar, economics teacher at Jhargram Raj College in West Midnapore, and Sampa Sen, who is in the Bengali department at Hooghly Mohsin College, received the notice on June 6. Both have been asked to reply within 15 days.
On Friday, education minister Bratya Basu argued the government's case. "If they were teachers of government-aided colleges, we would have nothing to object to. But these two colleges are fully run by the government, and according to law they are government employees. They need to seek permission before speaking to the media,” said Basu.
The incident comes less than two months after the mid-April arrest of Jadavpur University's Ambikesh Mahapatra, who was picked up for e-mailing a picture spoof on chief minister Mamata Banerjee and railway minister Mukul Roy.
In the midst of civil society protests that the government was becoming increasingly intolerant, the chief minister argued that the spoof, based on the dialogues of a famous film by Satyajit Ray, carried the message of eliminating her and hence it constituted cyber crime.
Sarkar, who is also secretary of the West Bengal Government College Teachers' Association, said, "I have received a letter from the government on June 6, and I will reply in due time.”
Sen was not available for comment.
Sources said the notice was served on Sarkar after a retired college teacher wrote to Basu on May 25, alleging that as a government employee he was violating the terms of service.