Saturday, December 9, 2023

Sacking of Visva-Bharati professor ‘brazenly illegal’: Noam Chomsky, other academics write to President

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More than 261 academics, including renowned linguist Noam Chomsky, in a letter to the President of India, Draupadi Murmu, informed her about the service termination of Visva-Bharati University professor Sudipta Bhattacharya over “undesirable” actions. The academics sought President’s intervention.

Sudipta Bhattacharya, the president of the Visva-Bharati Faculty Association, received the termination letter on December 22 last year. The central university authorities had claimed that the professor’s involvement in alleged gross misconduct led to his termination.

The academics described the action by Visva Bharati as “brazenly illegal”, arguing that no proper inquiry was conducted to verify the “list of misconducts” flagged by the university as having been allegedly committed by Sudipta Bhattacharya on different occasions.

“The termination order is indicative of how the norms, laws and procedures governing Visva-Bharati are being violated under the leadership of its current Vice-Chancellor (Bidyut Chakrabarty). As the Visitor of Visva-Bharati and the custodian of statutes and ordinances of the university, we urge you to kindly intervene in this matter to ensure that this institute of national importance that was founded by Rabindranath Tagore continues to foster the spirit of ‘where the mind is without fear’ instead of descending into a saga of vendetta, intimidation and highhandedness by its authorities,” reads the letter.

“It is clear that no proper inquiry was conducted by the university authorities before initiating draconian disciplinary action against a university professor and office-bearer of the faculty association. Neither has there been a show cause notice issued to the professor concerned. These violations of standard procedure point towards malice and arbitrariness. The faculty member has been asked to submit his “representation, if any, against the proposed discontinuation of your service/contract within 15 (fifteen) days” pending which the decision will be finalised by the competent authority. However, the competent authority has already made up its mind on the professor’s culpability and decided upon his termination from services. This goes against the principles of natural justice,” the letter pointed out.

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