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Calcutta HC stays Visva-Bharati move to retrospectively reduce professor’s salary

A view of the Calcutta High Court in Kolkata. File

A view of the Calcutta High Court in Kolkata. File   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Visva-Bharati Vice-Chancellor Bidyut Chakrabarty’s move to revoke a decision taken in 2014 has been stayed by the Calcutta High Court.

On June 19, Mr. Chakrabarty, who has been in the news more often for the wrong reasons ever since he took charge in November 2018, wrote a long note to to faculty, students and administrators, lamenting Viswa-Bharati’s fall in the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) rankings from 37 to 50 and listing 12 reasons for the decline in its reputation.

The reasons set out by the V-C pertained mostly to incidents of use of abusive language and financial irregularities. One of them, however, pertained to the appointment of a teacher who had come on board in 2014 with four advance increments which, Mr. Chakraborty held, was illegal. Even though he didn’t name the teacher in his note, the accounts department, shortly afterwards, made clear that it wanted to recover those four increments — now amounting to over ₹13 lakh — from Sruti Bandopadhyay, a professor of Manipuri Dance.

In 2014, Ms. Bandopadhyay, a highly-qualified dancer, was teaching at the Rabindra Bharati University in Kolkata when she was offered a job at Visva-Bharati in Santiniketan. According to sources close to her, she had made it clear to the Visva-Bharati authorities at the time that she would take up the job only if she was given five increments in advance — that is, a higher salary. The university, after much deliberation, decided to give her four advance increments instead of five.

Six years later, Mr. Chakraborty decided to overturn that decision.

In its communication to Ms. Bandopadhyay, the accounts department said: “This is to inform you that an amount of ₹13,29,138 is recoverable from you. We propose to recover the said amount in 36 equal monthly instalments, starting from your salary of July 2020.”

Ms. Bandopadhyay then approached the Calcutta High Court, which on Monday stayed the university’s move to reduce her salary and recover the dues.

“It is my prima facie view that a person after being allowed to work in a post, his or her salary cannot be reduced and he or she cannot be directed to return any amount for the period so worked. Therefore, till disposal of this writ petition by this Court, the University Authority is restrained from recovering any amount,” Judge Sahidullah Munshi said in his stay order.

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Printable version | Sep 24, 2020 3:59:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/hc-stays-visva-bharati-move-to-retrospectively-reduce-professors-salary/article32268951.ece

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