Visva Bharati sitting on a pile of legal cases — filed by those within campus and outside

The university is serving show-cause notices left, right and centre to its own people, a long-serving teacher says

At a time when it should be preparing for its centenary, the Santiniketan-situated Visva Bharati is sitting on a pile of legal cases and FIRs filed against it by those within the campus and outside. According to sources, there are more than 20 cases pending against the university authorities and nearly 10 FIRs filed in the local police station over various incidents of violence.

Most recently, a criminal case was filed against the authorities in the local court on Saturday by the Visva -Bharati University Faculty Association (VBUFA) because its president Sudipta Bhattacharyya was served a show-cause notice on July 1 for allegedly “hurling abuse to higher officials” in a Facebook post. He was given three days to apologise.

A professor of economics, he contended that the screenshot sent to him as evidence was from a private chat on a WhatsApp group — and not Facebook — and the said message had not named anybody.

The VBUFA is already in court for at least three other cases: locking of its offices on the campus, gag order on employees and seeking permission by employees each time they left the station. More cases will soon add to the pile: to be filed by former acting Vice-Chancellor Sabujkali Sen and two other senior officials who were all dismissed from service on Friday for allegedly fudging the minutes of a crucial meeting held in early 2018 with the aim of extending Ms. Sen’s tenure as the acting Vice-Chancellor.

Ms. Sen denied charges of wrongdoing and said her dismissal was a result of personal vendetta.

Several teachers also have cases pending in court, including Sruti Bandopadhyay, a professor of Manipuri Dance, who joined Visva Bharati in 2014 on the condition that she should be given five advance increments. She had eventually settled for four. But the university had recently revoked that decision, calling it illegal, and decided to recover those increments from her with retrospective effect. Ms. Bandopadhyay went to the Calcutta High Court which stayed the university’s move to lower her salary and recover the sum.

“This is no longer a university; this has become an investigating agency, which is serving show-cause notices left, right and centre to its own people,” a long-serving teacher said. “All these years, the authorities had to deal with only two or three legal cases at a time, but to deal with more than 20 cases — this is unprecedented.”

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