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Facing allegations from interim V-C, his NBU predecessor asks: ‘What authority does he have to probe?

AN INTERIM report that raises allegations of irregularities during his tenure has prompted a sharp reaction from Om Prakash Mishra, the former Vice-Chancellor of North Bengal University (NBU).

The report has been prepared as part of an enquiry being conducted by Rathin Bandyopadhyay, the interim V-C of the varsity, who has submitted it to Governor C V Ananda Bose, who is also NBU’s Chancellor.

The enquiry started on July 19 and the interim report was submitted to Raj Bhawan on July 31. Incidentally, Mishra is a leading face in the agitation against Governor Bose after Raj Bhawan appointed interim V-Cs in state universities. Mishra and other former V-Cs had staged a protest in front of Raj Bhawan and sent a legal notice to

the Chancellor.

Allegations against Mishra in the interim report include spending Rs 3 lakh in three days for an “illegal NAAC Review Committee”; trying to hand over five acres of university land to an external organisation; and establishing a research centre on strategic security and defence study without proper precauations.

“He (the interim V-C) is not the competent authority to investigate. I will answer all these allegations within the legal framework. All this is happening because I am protesting against the Governor, who is the Chancellor of NBU,” Mishra said when contacted by The Indian Express.

In an email to The Indian Express later, he wrote: “My relationship with the University of North Bengal as its Vice-Chancellor ceased to exist on May 21. Under the law of the land, only a competent authority can conduct an inquiry against the existing employee by following the principle of natural justice. The Chancellor of North Bengal University has no authority to direct any authorised person, who is not even a Vice Chancellor or Interim Vice Chancellor, to conduct any inquiry against former Vice Chancellor of the University, who is superior to a person who is not a Vice Chancellor as per mandate of the Hon’ble Division Bench of the High Court of Calcutta… The Chancellor and his appointee lack the basic knowledge that no inquiry can be conducted even against any existing employee without due process… Only the Higher Education Department of the State Government can order an inquiry against the existing Vice Chancellor of any University.”

The interim V-C did not comment on the development.

The interim report claims: “Professor Mishra had taken a large number of decisions having huge financial implications and severe stress upon the university exchequer… Under the garb of a Cabinet decision… Mishra tried to hand over more than five acres of valuable university land to some external organisation without any definite precondition of financial and academic gain of the university. This was done purportedly to establish one hotel management institute in purported collaboration with the university…”

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“During the last phase of his tenure as V-C, he decided to arrange an illegal NAAC Review Committee visit by inviting three professors from different parts of the country wherein he spent around Rs 3 lakh from the university fund…,” it claims.

A person close to Mishra said, “Whatever he did, he did for the betterment of the university and within the legal framework. All decisions were taken in the Executive Council meeting. The decision of giving land was taken by the state cabinet. He organised an NAAC review committee visit to improve the university’s grade.”

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The Interim V-C has recommended that Mishra, who is also a professor at Jadavpur University, be “suspended from JU till the conclusion and finality of the present inquiry or be put under forced leave without pay with immediate effect for the ends of justice and smooth conduct of the present inquiry”.

© The Indian Express (P) Ltd

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