Draconian Guidelines
Department of Higher Education, West Bengal Government has prepared a draft of instructions, which will be binding upon the teachers of Universities and Colleges and has no relevance towards betterment of the higher education in our state. Such an outlook towards the teachers of University and Colleges are not only unprecedented and can only be deciphered as extreme insult to the teachers.

You all are aware about the denial of State Government in passing on the UGC recommended benefits to the teachers, At the same time, the teaching fraternity appears to be the bigger: nemesis to the Government through imposing newer regulations, which are not only unlawful but also bring them to impertinence. Some of the existing, as well as, newly conceived ideas are mentioned below for your information (and any necessary action as well):
1.   The West Bengal Universities and Colleges (Administration and Regulation) Act, 2017) had no provision of police verification within the probation period after joining. But in the proposed draft, it is said that Police verification will be done within the probation period of 2/3 years (for University probation period is 3 years and for College it is 2 years). Implicating that anybody's job can potentially be terminated at any time within 2/3 years of joining. Right now, probation period is only 1 year.

2.   The Act referred to submit Medical Examination Report before joining. Now it is proposed to amend that the test be carried out during the probationary period (i.e. after joining the service). This can be maltreated by the authority to terminate the incumbent with one month's notice in the pretext that he/she is not physically and mentally fit. It is customary that if the service demands any medical/physical examination, the same be carried before allowing the incumbent to join the post but not subsequent to joining. This is a direct attack on the fundamental right of a citizen, cf. if one has multiple options, namely A and B. If after joining service A, he/she is terminated on the ground of medical unfitness then the option B should not wait for him/her until then.

3.   Every college/university shall compulsorily maintain a Biometric system and Principal/Registrar will check monthly and will have to send quarterly report. This is going to be a huge extra burden on College Principals/Registrars in addition to their other academic and administrative responsibilities. Rules also say that Principals must take at least 2 hours of class per day (right now, 6 days week).Besides, the academic activities (including lecture preparation, exam responsibilities, research activities etc) demand access to various resources not available under the same roof and the Government needs to be conveyed the message that the activities in academic institutions are different from the activities performed in Government offices in the form of Table work.

4.   Annual confidential report is to be issued for every incumbent by the authority and any negative report against an employee without the knowledge of the employee has been directly linked with the transfer and promotion of employees (applicable for college teachers). The most relevant issue, remains as how can the head of the institution can judge the teaching quality of teachers belonging to diversified disciplines, notwithstanding the modern day inter-disciplinary research.

5.   It is mandatory for every employee to declare annual assets within 30th April every year, which is also strangely coupled to promotion and transfer of teachers. How can Promotion (which is linked to the Academic Performance of teachers and other requirements stipulated by UGC) be linked to some non-academic affairs?
Can the Government introduce the asset declaration of Ministers / MPs / MLAs every year?

Bar in communication
1.   Teachers can be subjected to punishment for communication with any media, which infringes the freedom of speech, empowered by the constitution of our country.

2.   Even the policy of Government cannot be criticised, indicating that even writing articles (like post-editorials) involving the Government Education policies are also restricted with, tentamount to decimating any voice of dissent.

Act of Misconduct
1.   Any matter considered by the State Government as detrimental to the interest of the State and the University or the College—will be interpreted as an Act of Misconduct.
Disciplinary Action

2.   Disciplinary Action can be initiated by the Syndicate/Executive Council (for University) or Governing Body/Administrator (for Colleges). An appeal against the order can go only go to Tribunal constituted by the State Government. And the decision of the Tribunal shall be final and binding upon the University/College. The most important part is the appellant can't go to any Civil Court against the order of the Tribunal. Is it constitutionally sustainable?

3.   No legal practitioner shall be allowed to plead for or on behalf of any party to the appeal.
Now the question is, are these rules binding for existing employees? Can the service conditions be changed after joining a service?
Partha Pratim Ray,
Assistant Secretary, JUTA

Vol. 50, No.46, May 20 - 26, 2018