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Speculation surfaces over Bengal education dept meet with finance officers of state universities

IANS | September 18, 2023 12:55 PM

KOLKATA: Amid the growing tension between the Raj Bhavan and State Secretariat in West Bengal over the appointments of interim vice- chancellors in different state universities, fresh speculation has started taking the rounds following an urgent meeting convened by the government on September 20 and summoning finance officers of 11 state universities to be present there.

The state education department officials are tight-lipped about the probable agenda of the meeting. Apprehensions are there among the academic circles, especially, those associated with these state universities, that the proposed meeting will discuss human resource management system (HRMS) for the state universities enabling alternative payment of wages structures for the academic and non- academic staff there.

Once the HRMS is introduced, the drawing & disbursing officers (DDOs) for these state universities will be the bureaucratic representatives from the state higher education department, which will virtually bring an end to the financial autonomy for these state universities.

The notification for this meeting was issued on Monday. This apprehension of financial autonomy for the state universities has deepened further following the recent caution from Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to create economic blockades by stopping funds supply from the state exchequer to those state universities which will operate as per the directives of the Governor.

Legal and constitutional experts have, however, claimed that such a threat from the chief minister is not legally tenable and might attract legal repercussions, considering that there was a recent legal precedent this year with the Calcutta High Court upholding the decision of the Governor appointing interim VCs by virtue of his position as the Chancellor.

Different associations of the university teachers’ also have threatened to tap the legal doors in case there is any attempt by the state higher education department to end the financial autonomy of the state universities by introducing the HRMS.

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