A public interest litigation was filed on Thursday seeking the removal of Susanta Duttagupta, the vice-chancellor of Visva-Bharati. According to legal circles, the PIL may be the first of its kind in Bengal.
The central vigilance commissioner and University Grants Commission have also been made parties.
The central allegation of the petitioner, ashramite 66-year old Subodh Mitra, is that Duttagupta has committed several misconducts deliberately and in violation of both the letter of Visva Bharati Act and the spirit that guides the legislation.
Moreover, he allegedly concealed vital information about his earlier career.
Citing a regulation of the UGC notification June 28, 2010, the petition (WP27047W of 2012) states, “A vice chancellor of a University must be a person of the highest level of competence, integrity, morals and institutional commitment.”
The petition alleges “despite being the principal executive officer who is statutorily mandated to see that the statute, ordinances and the regulations are duly observed, present Vice Chancellor himself is flouting the statues.”
To substantiate his allegation, the petitioner has mentioned the VC is enjoying both pension and salary in violation of the VB Act that governs Duttagupta’s employment.
When in October HT reported on the controversy of Duttagupta enjoying both his pension from JNU and his VB salary, both the VC and registrar (Manimukut Mitra) claimed they were not breaking any rules.
However, they could not explain why senior employees such as Mitra himself and the director of Rabindra Bhavana continued deducting their pensions while the VC kept enjoying it.
Rajat Kanta Ray, the man whom Duttagupta succeeded, also used to get his pension deducted from his VC’s salary, the petition noted.
It also mentions, quoting VB Act, that both the academic and non-academic employees of the university are supposed to deduct any post retirement benefits they may be drawing from the salary they get the university.
The petition also claims Duttagupta was asked to step down from the post of director, Satyendra Nath Bose National Centre for Basic Sciences, an information that “was deliberately suppressed while he was being considered for the post of Vice-Chancellor of VisvaBharati.”
The petition states “there was an allegation of sexual harassment against the respondent (Duttagupta) and… it disentitles the respondent to continue in the office of the Vice Chancellor, Visva-Bharati.”
The petitioner also alleges in violation of a statute the VC is making VB pay for alcohol consumed by him at public places on different times. He has attached cash receipts of India International Centre signed by the VC that show alcohol was consumed.
Introducing the petitioner the document states, “The writ petitioner is a social and political activist. He studied at Visva-Bharati and Delhi School of Economics. He has led several important movements based on the ideals of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, especially ideals of mutual cooperation and rural reconstruction. The writ petitioner was the general secretary of Save Santiniketan movement that sought to restore original environmental settings of Visva-Bharati and Santiniketan.”