In Bihar, V-Cs issued show cause notices for skipping bureaucrat’s meeting - Hindustan Times

In Bihar, V-Cs issued show cause notices for skipping bureaucrat’s meeting

Feb 29, 2024 06:03 PM IST

The meeting notice from Bihar’s Raj Bhavan was sent hours after the education department criticised top university officials for skipping a meeting

PATNA: Bihar’s education department on Thursday issued a show cause notice to the vice-chancellors and top officials of the state universities for skipping a meeting chaired by the department’s director at the instance of Raj Bhavan and threatened to stop the release of funds to them if they do not fall in line. The show cause notice also threatened penal action against the vice-chancellors and university registrars, prompting Raj Bhavan to convene an urgent meeting of the vice-chancellors on Sunday, March 3.

A Raj Bhavan official said the education department could not take any action against vice chancellors without the governor’s concurrence (FILE PHOTO)
A Raj Bhavan official said the education department could not take any action against vice chancellors without the governor’s concurrence (FILE PHOTO)

“This is to inform you that the governor will preside over the meeting. The agenda of the meeting will be communicated later on,” a letter by Robert L Chongthu, principal secretary to governor Rajendra Arlekar, said.

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The department had previously scheduled a workshop for the vice-chancellors and other officials at the Chanakya National Law University (CNLU) on March 2 and 3.

The meeting notice from Raj Bhavan was sent out hours after the education department criticised the top university officials for skipping the meeting on Wednesday that was to discuss examinations. Education secretary Baidyanath Yadav issued the letter but people familiar with the matter associated the sharply-worded letter to his controversial boss, additional chief secretary KK Pathak.

“Conducting timely exam is your responsibility, but despite regular review, it has not happened and sessions are late. That is precisely why the department had called the meeting. Conducting timely exam is the responsibility of the state government and a gazette notification of exam calendar has also been issued,” Baidyanath Yadav’s letter in Hindi said.

HT has reviewed a copy of the letter.

It added that timely conduct of the examination was their responsibility and there was no way they could duck this responsibility.

“Why should the budget to universities not be stopped under section 48 for not discharging your responsibility? Besides, the exams under universities have been brought under the Bihar Conduct of Exams Act, 1981 and its section 9 clearly states no person entrusted with any responsibility of conducting exams can refuse it. There is provision of punishment to anyone refusing it under sections 166 & 166-A (relating to public servant disobeying a direction of the law) of the Indian Penal Code,” said the letter.

The letter, which told the university officials to respond within two days, also asked why proceedings shouldn’t be started against them under the penal code for denying information related to the exams and obstructing public servants of the department.

A senior Raj Bhawan official said the education department’s communication to the university was not in good taste even if it did not mean anything since no action could be initiated against university officials without the governor’s sanction.

“Everything is laid down in the varsity Acts. The department can do gazette notification and audit accounts, but not tell the universities how to operate… The protocol is also defined. A higher education director cannot preside over a meeting of the V-Cs. They should know the rank of a V-C. When the Chancellor issued guidelines to varsities, after a few days the department gives its own guidelines. The department should focus on overcoming deficiencies and not try to be one up,” he added.

The official recalled that the governor has already asked the chief secretary to take corrective steps and that Raj Bhavan has made it clear in the past that the chancellor’s authority is supreme in the context of running the academic and administrative affairs of the Universities and “no outside influence should be entertained”.

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    Arun Kumar is Senior Assistant Editor with Hindustan Times. He has spent two-and-half decades covering Bihar, including politics, educational and social issues.

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