The HRD Ministry has appointed professor Bidyut Chakraborty of Delhi University as the vice chancellor of Visva-Bharati, in a move that could mark an end to troubles on the central university campus in West Bengal’s Santiniketan since 2016.
The university, set up by Rabindranath Tagore, has been running without a permanent head since 2016 when then Vice Chancellor Sushanta Duttagupta was sacked on ground of irregularities by then HRD Minister Smriti Irani.
Chakraborty was embroiled in a sexual harassment row in 2007, which is believed to have impacted his prospects of being considered for the top post at Delhi University. But he was discharged of the charges later.There were amid speculations that Professor Bidyut Chakrabarty of Delhi University’s Political Science Department, was among the race for the post of Vice-Chancellor but the teachers have raised the issue of his alleged involvement in a sexual harassment case in the past.
The DU Gandhi Bhawan employee accused Prof. Chakrabarty of sexual harassment when the latter was posted as Director there. The case was however quashed by the High Court in 2010 when Prof. Chakrabarty approached the Court for relief.
Various Women’s groups, including the All India Democratic Women’s Association, Saheli, Pragatisheel Mahila Sangathan, Jagori and Joint Women’s Programme (JWP) among others, noted that any VC or Executive Council member must possess a sterling record on gender equality.
“These positions demand gender-just governance of universities, which include making policies, judging cases of sexual harassment and an active implementation of the law against sexual harassment at the workplace,” the organisations noted in letter.
The above letter referred to a report of DU’s Apex Committee on Sexual Harassment that was tabled and accepted by the Executive Council in 2007, which resolved that a letter of warning be issued to Prof. Chakrabarty and he should be asked to step down from the directorship of Gandhi Bhawan. It had also ordered that he be barred from holding any administrative post in the University for a period of three years.Many women’s organisations wrote to the Former President Pranab Mukherjee against his appointment
President Ram Nath Kovind had earlier scrapped a panel of names proposed for the post by the Prakash Javadekar-led HRD Ministry.A selection panel was then set up and new names were short-listed.Chakraborty teaches at Delhi University’s Political Science department and has a Ph.D from London School of Economics.