SC upholds HC verdict setting aside re-appointment of Calcutta University VC

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a Calcutta High Court verdict setting aside the re-appointment of Sonali Chakravarti Banerjee as vice-chancellor of the Calcutta University.
A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Hima Kohli said the impugned high court order is correct in law and facts and does not require interference.
It said the State cannot have done away with the clause requiring approval of the the West Bengal governor, who is the chancellor of the university.
On September 13, the Calcutta High Court set aside the reappointment of Banerjee as vice-chancellor of the Calcutta University, holding that the West Bengal government has no authority to do so as per provisions of the varsity’s Act.
Passing the verdict on a PIL by an alumnus of the university challenging the reappointment of Banerjee, the high court had held that the government order dated August 27, 2021, issued by a special secretary cannot be sustained.
It had ordered that the state had no authority to appoint or reappoint the vice-chancellor either under Section 8 of the Calcutta University Act or by taking recourse to the residuary Section 60 of the Act.
Oral prayers for a stay of operation of the order by lawyers representing the state government and Banerjee were rejected.
Banerjee was appointed as vice-chancellor of Calcutta University on August 28, 2017, for four years and her term expired on August 27, 2021.
Her tenure was extended by three months by the Chancellor with a rider that the selection process would commence and the vice-chancellor would be appointed by following the due process.
Thereafter, a notification dated August 27, 2021, was issued under the signature of the special secretary of the West Bengal government’s Higher Education Department, whereby Banerjee was reappointed as vice-chancellor of Calcutta University with effect from August 28, 2021, for four years.