Jadavpur University has postponed its convocation, which was scheduled on December 24, after the chancellor put his signature on the four honoris causa scrolls to be awarded to distinguished recipients at the event. The authorities have deferred the ceremony to “avoid any untoward incident”, given the Arts Faculty Students’ Union’s decision to boycott governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, also the chancellor of the state university, at the event.
In response, the chancellor told the media his signature on the honoris causa scrolls “carries no sanctity” from the date of postponement till he decided otherwise. “This is unfortunate, mala fide, and politicized. This trend indicates massive politicization and fear in the temples of education by the current government,” said Dhankhar. Hinting he was “running out of patience”, he offered his “sincere apologies” to the honoris causa awardees — Sankha Ghosh, Salman Haidar, C R Rao and Sanghamitra Bandyopadhyay — for the trouble caused to them
The university executive council in an urgent meeting on Saturday deferred the convocation and communicated the decision to the chancellor. Reportedly taking note of a students’ representation to the EC on Saturday and some student organizations’ boycott plan if Dhankhar graced the ceremony, the authorities pushed back the convocation to avert any “untoward incident”. The university has called a court meeting on Monday to decide on the date for awarding degrees to students.
“The chancellor has been toeing the BJP-RSS line. We don’t want Dhankhar on the campus to give us degrees. Even if he comes to the campus, we will boycott him by all possible democratic means,” said Arts Faculty Students’ Union secretary Debraj Debnath
State education minister Partha Chatterjee said the government had nothing to do with this. “Students have been agitating against CAA and NRC on campuses across the country. But the governor has been steadfastly speaking in favour of CAA. He is being perceived as a BJP politician — Raj bhavaner Ghosh babu (Dilip Ghosh of Raj Bhavan). If students are averse to him, what can the government do?” Chatterjee said
Dhankhar cited Section 8 of the Jadavpur University Act to argue that the university Court, instead of the EC, had the powers to decide on the convocation date. The chancellor also referred to Section 104 of the JU Statute that “the convocation should be presided over by the chancellor” and it had to be held on December 24 or “any such date as may be fixed by the EC with the approval of the chancellor”. Dhankhar held the government was trying to overrule the JU Act provisions by issuing a set of rules. “The Act says the chancellor is the head of the university. The government has no respect for the post and the rule of law. The government and the chancellor should not fight over who the boss is. The bossism of the government in a total mala fide manner is unfortunate. Why should the VC have to route his communication with the chancellor through the government? I appeal to the good sense of the chief minister. But she is more on the streets than in her seat,” the governor said, indicating JU was the fifth instance after Burdwan, Calcutta, Presidency and Makaut that had either postponed convocations or called off board meetings