Students unrest, delayed examinations, late publication of results, uproar over two campuses the Biju Patnaik University of Technology (BPUT) has be en in the news for wrong reasons. Now the BPUT Act 2002, which was ratified by the State Cabinet, has brought it back into the eye of a storm, for the proposed provisions are seen as a the Government’s attempt to interfere in the 11-year-old varsity’s affairs.
As per amendment to Section 8, the Government seeks to nominate Minister for Employment, Technical Education and Training as Pro Chancellor of the varsity which many see as a direct political interference in the administration of BPUT.
The amendment says that though the Government provides financial and other required support to the university, there is no scope in the Act for its “active participation in the affairs” of BPUT for its smooth functioning and the proposed provision of Pro Chancellor will facilitate the same.
“The separation of politics and education has been guaranteed in the Constitution. There is no other university of the country with such direct control by the political authority. Placing a Pro Chancellor that too a political person above the VC smacks of serious interference,” said a former Vice-Chancellor of a state university. The Supreme Court, in its judgment in 2002 over the T M A Pai versus State of Karnataka, had held that there should be no interference in administration and autonomy by the government although it is bound to provide financial aid. That’s not all. The amendment seeks BPUT to appoint the Registrar and Finance Officer from a panel of OAS and OFS officers furnished by the Government which is perceived as a step to control the administration and stymie the autonomy. Besides, some of the proposed changes are also in direct conflict with Central laws.
Amendment to Section 5 (iii), which seeks to grant permanent affiliation to the constituent colleges, defy the All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) Act.
The clause seeks to grant autonomy to “any constituent college or affiliated college or institution... with prior approval of the State Government in accordance with the manner as may be prescribed.”
“By affiliated college, amendment means colleges which have received permanent affiliation from the university which is not possible since the constituent colleges receive affiliation on a yearly basis from the AICTE as prescribed in the Act. On which basis and legal standing can the Government sanction permanent affiliation to the colleges?” wondered the head of a technical college.
Since affiliation is accorded on basis of certain parametres which are assessed every year by the AICTE, a permanent affiliation from Government holds no validity and could prove not only counter-productive but also draw legal problems.