Nitish barb over VCs

Patna, Feb. 11: The controversy over the appointment of vice-chancellors was rekindled today with chief minister Nitish Kumar declaring that no "true consultation" was held between the state government and Raj Bhavan on the matter.

"If sending a list of candidates can be called consultation then we were consulted. But there was no consultation as Patna High Court defined it," Nitish said today, expressing frustration over the government's inability to do anything about higher education. "The government is supposed to just give grants to universities. We cannot ensure that the grants are properly utilised," he added and stressed that the government should not be held responsible for the condition of higher education.

The high court had in December last year quashed the appointment of six VCs on the ground that due consultation with the government was not carried out as mandated by law. In Bihar, the governor, in his capacity as chancellor of universities, makes the appointments.

Raj Bhavan officials were not willing to comment on Nitish's remarks. However, Governor Devanand Konwar, who is in Delhi, was quoted by a TV channel as saying: "Rules have been adhered to. The appointments have been made as per the Constitution. The government's recommendations are not binding."

Last Saturday, the chancellor's office had notified the appointment of eight VCs, including six whose appointments had been quashed. The court had not made any comment on the performance of the VCs, nor had it said that they cannot be reinstated. However, the government had raised objections to the names on the ground that several of them were facing corruption charges. The chancellor's office overruled the objections on the ground that none of them had been convicted.

Nitish today said the chancellor's office had sent a list of candidates to his office. "The list did not even contain basic information as to which candidate was proposed for which university," he said. The chief minister said that after consulting the education department, he had sent queries to Raj Bhavan, seeking more information on the candidates. "Consultations are supposed to be held on a university-to-university basis. VCs of various universities are not supposed to be appointed from a panel," he said.