In June 2022, the West Bengal Assembly passed the West Bengal University Laws (Amendment) Bill paving the way for making the Chief Minister the Chancellor of universities run by the state government, replacing the Governor from the position. Ironically, the Bill will become law only after it receives Governor’s assent.
What powers do Governors enjoy as Chancellors?
- The appointment of Vice-Chancellors in state government-run universities is among the responsibilities of Governors as Chancellors.
- Chancellors in most states have the power to annul decisions of the decision-making bodies of universities such as the Executive Council, and to make appointments to these bodies.
- They also enjoy the power to preside over the convocation of universities.
- In some states, however, Governors have little or no say in appointing VCs despite holding the post of Chancellor. In Telangana and Gujarat, Governors have no option but to appoint VCs from among the names approved by the state governments.
How are similar disputes playing out in other states?
- The move by the Mamata Banerjee government has once again brought to the fore similar disputes playing out in Opposition-ruled states such as Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra, which too have curtailed the authority enjoyed by Governors as Chancellors.
- While no attempt has been made to officially designate the CM as Chancellor in any other state, Tamil Nadu in April passed two Bills that seek to transfer the power of the Governor to appoint VCs of 13 state universities to the state government, which is currently run by the DMK.