Sushanta Dattagupta, vice chancellor of one of India's biggest Central Government-funded autonomous universities, Visva Bharati, emailed his resignation to President Pranab Mukherjee last night. The government had earlier found Dattagupta guilty of drawing pension from Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University, making illegal appointments, approving large payments to an inquiry officer in charge of departmental investigations, and using university funds for personal alcohol bills.
According to unnamed sources quoted in an Indian Express report, the government would accept Dattagupta's resignation, though a hard copy of the letter would be required to start the process.
The process for Dattagupta's removal had begun almost a year ago, soon after the Modi government took over, according to reports. Interestingly, the ministry of human resources had begun the investigation into alleged regularities in Visva Bharati after a Congress MP from Bengal, P Bhattacharya, brought up the matter in the Rajya Sabha during the Parliament's winter session last year.
Last week, the HRD ministry recommended the VC's removal from the post after a three-member panel set up by the ministry and headed by retired Allahabad High Court judge Justice Sakharam Singh Yadav had found him guilty of the charges in February this year.
Dattagupta's reply to a show-cause notice sent to him by President Mukherjee in June this year reportedly ran into more than 1000 pages. However, the HRD ministry was "unconvinced" by his reply.
President Mukherjee had sent back the HRD ministry report last week, asking them to take legal opinion on this issue. If Dattagupta was sacked, it would have been unprecedented as no central university head in India has ever been dismissed.
Dattagupta, appointed as VC in 2011 by the UPA-II government, still has a year left in his tenure. Though the existing laws relating to Central Universities do not provide for sacking of a Vice Chancellor, the President can invoke section 16 of the General Clauses Act, 1987, to remove him.
The Act empowers the appointing authority to suspend or dismiss any person appointed under a Central act or regulation.
Visva-Bharati University was founded by poet, philosopher and Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore and is located in Santiniketan in West Bengal.