SC affirms quashing of Calcutta University V-C’s reappointment by HC

The Supreme Court on Tuesday affirmed the Calcutta High Court judgment quashing the reappointment of Sonali Chakravarti Banerjee as vice-chancellor (V-C) of the Calcutta University.

A bench headed by Justice Chandrachud said the state government could not have done away with the clause requiring approval of the chancellor. The governor is the ex-officio chancellor of all state universities.

The top court dismissed the petitions filed by the West Bengal government and Banerjee challenging the order of the Calcutta High Court.

The apex court observed that the high court judgment was correct both in facts and in law. It further added that the government cannot misuse the removal of difficulty clause to remove all obstacles in its path which arise due to statutory restrictions. The detailed judgment in the matter will be uploaded later in the day.

On September 13, the high court set aside the state education department’s decision to re-appoint Sonali Chakravarti Banerjee as vice-chancellor of Calcutta University. The high court said the order of re-appointment “has no legal force and is void in the eyes of law and non-existent”.

A division bench of Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj passed the order on a PIL, which contended that the state government had no power to reappoint a V-C “as the power to appoint/reappoint lies with the chancellor”.

The high court had said, “The order of the reappointment of respondent No. 4 as the vice-chancellor, Calcutta University, issued by the state government, has no legal force and is void in the eyes of law and non-existent, hence liable to be set aside.”

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