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22.09.2014


























































W.P.25523(W) of 2014
(Dr. Surajit Chandra Mukhopadhyay vs. The West
Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences
& Ors.)
Mr. Kishore Datta
Mr. Biswaroop Bhattacharya
Mr. Srijib Chakraborty
Ms. Reshmi Ghosh
Ms. Tannistha Bandyopadhyay.for the petitioner

Mr. Pratik Dhar
Mr. Rittwik Pattanayak
Mr. Samir Halder
Mr. Pappu Adhikari..for the respondents

The petitioner is the Registrar, West Bengal
National University of Juridical Sciences (hereafter the
University), presently under suspension. A charge sheet
dated August 27, 2014 has been issued against him by
the Vice Chancellor of the University, which is under
challenge in this writ petition on diverse grounds.
Primarily, Mr. Datta, learned senior advocate
appearing for the petitioner has argued that the Vice
Chancellor did not have the jurisdiction to issue a charge
sheet against the petitioner and that the proceeding is an
outcome of malice.
The point of jurisdiction is based on two
specific grounds: (i) the Executive Council of the
University being the appointing authority of the
petitioner, the Vice Chancellor could not have been
delegated the power to draw up disciplinary proceeding
upon identification of the erring officials involved in
mismanagement of funds of the University (as indicated
in the preliminary inquiry report prepared under the
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Chairmanship of a retired Judge of the Rajasthan High
Court) and (ii) the Vice Chancellor was also a signatory to
all the documents forming part of the allegation of
mismanagement of University funds and if the petitioner
has been remiss, the Vice Chancellor is equally remiss
and, therefore, drawing up of disciplinary proceeding by
the Vice Chancellor stands vitiated.
The point of mala fide has been argued by
referring to the act of the Vice Chancellor in appointing
an inquiry officer immediately upon receipt of the
petitioners response to the show cause notice and even
before the charge sheet was issued.
Mr. Datta has also argued that the language
in which the charges against the petitioner is couched
leaves no manner of doubt that the petitioner's guilt has
been pre-judged and that the proceeding has been
initiated to dispel the conclusions that have already been
drawn against him and to complete a ritual in law.
Prayer for stay of the proceeding has,
accordingly, been made by Mr. Datta.
Mr. Dhar, learned senior advocate appearing
for the University has contested the writ petition on all
the grounds raised by Mr. Datta. He has also submitted
that the inquiry officer appointed by the Vice Chancellor
is a retired civil service officer, who has sufficient
experience in conducting departmental inquiries, and
there is no reason for the petitioner to apprehend that he
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would not receive justice from him. He has accordingly,
prayed for dismissal of the writ petition.
The allegations levelled against the petitioner
are indeed serious. What is equally serious is the
petitioners allegation that the Vice Chancellor being a
signatory to all the documents that the petitioner had
signed, cannot escape the liability of facing disciplinary
proceeding.
To my mind, these are matters which are not
to be examined at this stage. However, the seriousness of
the allegations cannot be simply ignored; on the contrary,
the same merit identification of whoever is responsible for
mismanagement of funds, be it the Vice Chancellor or the
petitioner or any other person acting jointly or severally
and appropriate action being taken to bring the offender
to book. The University is an educational institution of
repute with the Honble Chief Justice of India as the
Chancellor and any attempt to tarnish its image must be
viewed with extreme concern.
It is in these exceptional facts and
circumstances that a free, fair, proper and meaningful
inquiry into the allegations levelled against the petitioner
ought to be conducted. Without meaning any disrespect
to the inquiry officer, who has already been appointed by
the Vice Chancellor, I propose to interfere at this stage
only on the limited aspect of nominating an inquiry
officer to take the disciplinary proceeding initiated
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against the petitioner to its logical conclusion. With that
in view, I appoint Honble Justice Pravendu Narayan
Sinha (Retd.) as the inquiry officer to inquire into the
charges levelled against the petitioner and to submit a
report for consideration of the Executive Council of the
University.
The venue of the inquiry would be the
University premises. The University shall provide Justice
Sinha with adequate secretarial assistance and make
suitable arrangements for his conveyance, to and fro.
Justice Sinha shall be entitled to a minimum
remuneration of Rs. 10,000/- and a maximum
remuneration of Rs. 30,000/- each day, payable by the
University, and whether the remuneration would be
Rs.10,000/- or 30,000/- or anything in between on any
particular day is left to the wise discretion of Justice
Sinha depending upon the volume of work connected
with the inquiry that is transacted every day.
The University and the petitioner shall co-
operate with Justice Sinha and earnest endeavour shall
be made by all concerned to complete the inquiry at an
early date.
The petitioner shall have time till October 13,
2014 to reply to the charges. The inquiry shall commence
from October 14, 2014 or soon thereafter, subject to
convenience of Justice Sinha and tender of evidence, oral
and documentary, be completed by the parties preferably
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by January 15, 2015.
In the inquiry, the petitioner shall be entitled
to reasonable, adequate and effective opportunity of
raising defence including opportunity to adduce
witnesses in defence. However, the prayer for legal
assistance made by Mr. Datta is refused at this stage. It
is made clear that if the University proposes to appoint a
presenting officer who is a law graduate and/or a person
who is having a legally trained mind to conduct the
prosecution case, the petitioner shall be entitled to make
a prayer before Justice Sinha for legal representation and
the same may be considered and disposed of in
accordance with law.
The writ petition is kept pending for the dual
purposes of expediting the inquiry, if called for, and
considering Mr. Dattas prayer for revocation of the order
of suspension.
Put up the writ petition on February 06,
2015 under the heading Part-Heard for reporting
developments and for further order(s), as the
circumstances warrant.

(DIPANKAR DATTA,J.)




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