NEW DELHI: Acting swiftly, HRD Ministry today approached the Law Ministry to seek legal opinion on the sacking of Visva Bharati Vice Chancellor Sushanta Duttagupta.
The action comes in the wake of President Pranab Mukherjee returning the file of HRD ministry recommending the sacking of the VC, asking it to seek legal opinion before any decision. According to sources, the President's Office in particular has stressed on taking legal views on the "order of dismissal" as it would be the first time a vice chancellor is sacked by the President, who is the Visitor to all Central Universities.
The Ministry had sent Duttagupta's file to the President recently after it allegedly found him guilty of financial and administrative wrongdoings. The officials said the action was necessitated as the Ministry was "unconvinced" by his reply to the show cause notice issued to him in June.
Charges against Duttagupta included drawing salary from Visva Bharati and pension from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) simultaneously in alleged violation of the law. Under the law, he was required to have got his pension amount deducted from the pay he received from Visva Bharati.
Besides this, Duttagupta was charged with making irregular appointments, including that of the Controller of Examinations despite having no powers, and sanctioning key posts in violation of the Visva Bharati Act. Though the existing laws relating to Central Universities do not provide for sacking of a Vice Chancellor, President Pranab Mukherjee 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.
A three-member panel set up by the HRD Ministry and headed by former Allahabad High Court judge Justice (retd) S S Yadav had allegedly found him guilty of the charges in February. Senior Congress leader from West Bengal and Rajya Sabha MP Pradeep Bhattacharya had in June met the President to demand his removal, alleging the university was "losing its glory" under him.