A day after Jadavpur University authorities cancelled the special convocation, West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Sunday wrote a letter to the varsity vice-chancellor asking him to ignore the “illegal” resolution. Student unions, AFSU, and SFI termed the governor’s move an “unwarranted interference into the autonomy of the institute” and threatened strong protest if he “does anything by force”. Dhankar, who is the chancellor of state universities, held the Executive Council resolution on December 21 to defer the convocation programme of December 24 “illegal and invalid” and said, “A question has arisen as to whether the Executive Council has acted in accordance with the powers conferred on it.”
Referring to a letter from the vice-chancellor on December 21 informing about the decision to put the convocation on hold, he said, “In your communication, you have referred to me as chancellor of Jadavpur University following a resolution taken by the Executive Council in its meeting of December 21.”
“I thus invoke the power reposed in me as Chancellor… in terms of provision of the act which states if any question arises as to whether the Executive Council has acted in accordance with the powers conferred on it by or under this act, the matter shall be decided by reference to the Chancellor whose decision shall be final,” he said.
“As vice-chancellor you are obliged to proceed ahead ignoring this Executive Council resolution dated December 21, 2019,” the letter from Raj Bhavan bearing Dhankhar’s signature said.
“Please note that any disregard entails serious consequences for the concerned. Such a course would also have potential to adversely impact the students who may be conferred degrees in an illegal convocation,” he said.
Dhankar was referring to the decision to do away with the special convocation but go ahead with the annual convocation, which is addressed by the VC, on the same day.
Observing that the Executive Council had outrageously overstepped its jurisdictional competence in being judgmental about the decision, the governor said, “Compliance of this be forthwith communicated.”
The Raj Bhavan said in another communique that Dhankhar will be attending the Court Meeting, the highest decision-making body of JU which is above the EC, on Monday as the chancellor of the university. VC Suranjan Das could not be contacted for comments.
The Students Federation of India and Arts Faculty Students Union in a joint statement said, “The students of JU will not tolerate the unwarranted interference of the governor in the functional autonomy of JU.”
Threatening to hold a “strong demonstration” if the governor wants to do “anything forcefully,” the unions said, “Unlike any protest of the BJP, our movement will be democratic and peaceful.”
An office-bearer of Jadavpur University Teachers’ Association said they will request all stakeholders to ensure that the academic atmosphere of the premier institute is not hampered. To a question, a JUTA member said, “We hope the Court Meeting will ensure that degrees are conferred on the students and researchers during the annual convocation on December 24.”