A file photo of President Pranab Mukherjee, who had twice earlier returned the file relating to Dattagupta to the HRD ministry, seeking the opinion of the law ministry on this issue. Photo: PTI
New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee has approved the dismissal of Visva Bharati vice chancellor Sushanta Dattagupta, the first instance of sacking of the VC of a Central University, HRD ministry officials said.
“The President, who is the visitor of Central Universities, has approved the dismissal of Visva Bharati VC Dattagupta, as proposed by the ministry,” Ghanshyam Goel, the spokesperson for the HRD ministry said.
Earlier this month, the HRD ministry had sent the file to the President recommending dismissal of Dattagupta, who was facing allegations of financial and administrative irregularities, after the law ministry and the Attorney General approved the procedures followed by it in the matter.
The President’s office, had earlier raised certain queries after which the ministry had sought the opinion of the law ministry. Mukherjee had twice earlier returned the file relating to Dattagupta to the HRD ministry, the latest in November last year, asking whether denying the VC a “hearing in person” on allegations levelled against him was legally tenable, triggering speculation that both were not on the same page on the matter.
However, after the law ministry backed the HRD’s view, the file was again sent to the President paving the way for the VC’s dismissal.
Amidst reports that Rashtrapati Bhavan and the ministry amidst reports that Rashtrapati Bhavan and the ministry had divergent views on the issue, HRD minister Smriti Irani had met the President recently.
Charges against Duttagupta included drawing salary from Visva Bharati and pension from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) simultaneously in alleged violation of the law. Under the law, he was required to have got his pension amount deducted from the pay he received from Visva Bharati.
Besides this, Duttagupta was charged with making irregular appointments, including that of the controller of examinations, despite having no powers, and sanctioning key posts in violation of the Visva Bharati Act.
Dattagupta, who was appointed in 2011, had over six months of his tenure left. Earlier he had challenged the legality of the ministry’s fact-finding committee but his petition was dismissed by the Calcutta High Court.
Dattagupta had reportedly emailed his resignation to the President, which the HRD ministry was unwilling to accept.