The Calcutta High Court has reiterated that the UGC Regulations, 2018 would prevail over the conflicting provisions of the concerned State Universities Act. The appointments or re-appointment of vice-chancellors made by the order of the State Government in 22 State-run Universities of Calcutta were also held to be unsustainable in law.

The bench of Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj observed that, “it is essential that the appointment of the Vice-Chancellor should be strictly in accordance with the provisions of the Act. It would not be in the interest of the students and administration of the universities to continue the concerned respondents as Vice-Chancellor of the University once it is found that they have been appointed without following the due procedure and contrary to the provisions of the Act and that too by an authority not competent to appoint.”

Advocate Susmita Saha Dutta appeared for the appellant, AG S.N. Mookherji appeared for the State, Advocate Tarunjyoti Tewari appeared for the Union of India and Senior Advocate Abhrotosh Majumder appeared for the respondent.

The petitioner had preferred the Public Interest Litigation and had prayed for issuing of writ of quo warranto against the appointments, reappointments, extension of tenure of vice-chancellors in 22 State-run Universities in West Bengal. It was claimed that the provisions of the West Bengal University Laws (Amendment) Act, 2012 and West Bengal University Laws (Amendment) Act, 2014 were ultra vires of the provisions of the Constitution of India, University Grants Commission Act and the UGC Regulations of 2010 and 2018.

The Court relied upon the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Gambhirdan K. Gadhvi vs. State of Gujarat and Others (2022) 5 SCC 179 wherein it was held that "in a case where there is a conflict between the State University Act and the UGC Regulations, 2018 to the extent State legislation is repugnant, the UGC Regulations, 2018 shall prevail."

Further, the Court noted that some appointments were made either by a search committee, which was not properly constituted, or they did not fulfil the minimum eligibility criteria of 10 years’ experience as professor in the University or were appointed without following the due procedure and held that the writ of quo warranto would be issued against the respondents as they were working by virtue of orders which were passed without approval of the Chancellor.

“In the present case also, respondent Vice-Chancellors are appointed on the post of Vice-Chancellor which is a public office and their appointments have been found to be in violation of the provisions of law. Hence, if they are still holding the post by virtue of those orders, a case for issuing the writ of quo warranto against them is made out.” said the Court

Accordingly, the Writ Petition was disposed of.

Cause Title- Anupam Bera v. The State of West Bengal & Ors.

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