The university PRO, the only official authorised to speak to the media, did not respond to calls for comment.
There is anger in Visva-Bharati over the unexplained delay in the payment of salaries and pension for June. Salaries are usually credited on the last day of every month but they remained unpaid until at least Monday afternoon — a delay of five days — with no word from the authorities.
The Visva-Bharati University Faculty Association (VBUFA) and the critics of Vice-Chancellor Bidyut Chakrabarty call the delay “intentional and arbitrary”. The university PRO, the only official authorised to speak to the media, did not respond to calls for comment.
“Many aged retired employees visited banks as usual to withdraw their pension and returned with pain. The right to receive salary and pension is a fundamental right enshrined under Article 21 of Constitution and non-payment would have direct bearing on quality of life as upheld by the verdict in many court cases in India,” the VBUFA wrote in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is the Chancellor of Visva-Bharati.
‘COVID situation not an excuse’
“Timely disbursement of salary is a statutory obligation on the part of the employer. If he fails to do this duty in any Central University, then the Accounts Officer, Registrar and the Vice-Chancellor are held responsible for dereliction of duty. The COVID situation cannot be an excuse for non-payment of salary as banks and accounts departments all over the country remain open,” the teachers’ union wrote.
According to a union member, most employees in Visva-Bharati got less salary for May without explanation and when a professor sought to know the reason during an online faculty meeting, he was asked by the V-C to take charge of salary disbursement. A verbal showdown between the two followed and the delay in the salary was a result of that spat, the union member said while asking not to be named.
Not the first time
This is not the first time during Prof. Chakrabarty’s tenure that salaries have been delayed. Last year too, disbursement of salaries was delayed during February, June and July. The reason given was lack of funds but the Education Ministry insisted that there was no such paucity and had pulled up the authorities.
Prof. Chakrabarty took charge in November 2018, not long before the 1921-founded university was to celebrate its centenary, but his tenure continues to be marked with a string of unpleasant events, including frequent serving of charge-sheets and notices on teachers, threatening them with disciplinary action.