Bihar: Political row erupts over frozen bank accounts of two university officials

The officials belong to the Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar Bihar University in Muzaffarpur
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar | (Pic: PTI)
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar | (Pic: PTI)

When the bank accounts of the vice-chancellor and pro-vice-chancellor of the Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar Bihar University in Muzaffarpur were frozen on Thursday, August 17, a political controversy erupted.

The State Education Department stopped the salaries of the two officials for their alleged failure in inspecting the educational institutions under their jurisdiction and also for not attending a review meeting convened by the Department, informed a senior official of the Education Department, on condition of anonymity, as mentioned in a report by PTI.

A day later, Robert L Chongthu, Principal Secretary to the Governor, sent a letter to the concerned bank, directing it to de-freeze the accounts of the two officials with immediate effect. 

"Under Section 54 of the Bihar State Universities Act, 1976, the state government has the power to audit the universities, but your act to freeze the financial powers and bank accounts of both the office bearers is arbitrary and beyond jurisdiction," Chongthu said in a letter to the Education Department.

"This act of yours seems to be an attack on the autonomy of the university and you have encroached upon the powers of the chancellor. The chancellor (governor) has ordered that these orders may be withdrawn and these types of unwarranted acts may be avoided in future," the letter added.

The incident has triggered a political slugfest, with the ruling alliance slamming the "interference of the governor" and the opposition BJP coming in support of the Raj Bhavan, holding the Nitish Kumar government responsible for the "collapse of the education system" in the state.

Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) Spokesperson Mrityunjay Tiwary said, "The Mahagathbandhan government in the state is trying to improve the quality of education, including higher education. The Raj Bhavan should not intervene with the functioning of an elected government and should avoid such confrontations," as per PTI.

Meanwhile, Bihar BJP Spokesperson Nikhil Anand said, "Since Nitish Kumar has miserably failed in improving the state's education system, he is now creating a situation of showdown with the governor who is also the chancellor of the universities. The CM is ignoring the autonomy of universities and colleges."

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