The Visva-Bharati Act, 1951

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The Act being Central Government’s legislation was enacted with the name and title as ‘the Visva-Bharati Act, 1951’ (Act no. 29 of 1951). The Act was enacted by the Indian Parliament with the view to make declaration to the effect that the Institution which is known with the name as ‘Visva- Bharati’ was to be one of National Importance. Moreover, the functioning of the said institution as the Unitary teaching and residential University, is also being covered under this Act. The Act has received the assent of the President of India on 9th day of May, 1951 and the provisions whereof were brought into operation on 14th day of May, 1951 by the Central Government vide its notification dated 10th May, 1951. The provisions of this Act were amended by the Amending Act of 1961, 1971, etc.

The Act under its first preliminary provisions provides for short titling and commencement thereof, however, Section 2 of the act specifically declare that the said Institution namely ‘Visva- Bharati’ is one of National importance which was founded by honourable late Rabindranath Tagore (Thakur) located at Santiniketan in the District of Birbhum, West Bengal and thus the same is constituted as University. Further, section 3 of the Act provides for interpretation clauses, wherein certain terminologies used under the provisions of the Act are defined for the purpose of correct interpretation of thereof.

Section 4 of the Act provides for the incorporation of the University, where the first Chancellor and Vice- Chancellor of the University should be by the Central Government by notifying in the Official Gazette and also the first members of the Court and all persons to become the officers or members thereof will constitute a corporate body as a unitary, teaching and residential University with the name of ‘Visva- Bharati’ and the same should be having all the relevant features of the registered company. Section 5 also makes it clear that after such incorporation, the references of the Society namely ‘Visva- Bharati’ which was registered under the provisions of the Societies Registration Act, 1860 on 16th day of May, 1922 should be considered as University. Besides, all properties, assets, rights, liabilities, etc. of the society and also all person employed previously the present Act was brought into force, belonging to that society should also be treated as that of University, with all the similar terms and conditions relating thereto. Moreover, the section 5A of the Act specifies the various objects of the University, including the one of very importance, i.e. dissemination and advancement of knowledge and understanding by making provisions of instructional and extension and research facilities. The pattern of education which was envisaged by the Rabindranath Tagore in his writings are required to be followed by the University while organising its activities and the implementation of its academic programmes. Similarly, section 6 of the Act prescribes the powers of the University, which are more or less similar to that of objects thereof. And so far as the jurisdiction of the same is concerned, the section 7 says that the second Schedule annexed with the Act specifies that same. Such University can also establish and maintain examination centres for the People’s Education Council, conducted home study courses, at any places in India.

Further, the Act under its section 8 makes it clear that the University should not be involved in any discriminating activities, as regards to admissions and appointments and should be open for every persons irrespective of his caste, creeds, class, sex, nationality, etc. However, there can be given religious instructions which is approved by the authorities concerned with the consent of receivers.

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Also, notably, the President of India, is treated as the Visitor of the University who is vested with the right to cause making of an inspection by specified persons. Such inspection is intended at the University, its buildings, laboratories, etc. Similarly, there can be caused an inquiry by the President of India as Visitor, which is to be done in respect of administration or finances of the University. Also section 11 specifies the appointment of The Governor of the State of West Bengal as Rector of the University. So far as authorities and officers of the University are concerned section 12 to 26 makes provisions in that regard. The officers includes the Chancellor, Vice- Chancellor, Director of Studies, Educational Innovations and Rural Reconstruction, Director of Culture and Cultural Relations, Director of Physical Education, Sports, National Service and Student Welfare, Registrar, Finance Officer, Bhavanas Adhyakshas and other Statutes declared officers of the University. And the authorities of the University includes, the Court, Executive Council, Academic Council, Finance Committee, Institute Board and other Statutes declared authorities. All these officers and authorities of the University have been in detail described under the relevant subsequent provisions of the Act. Section 26 of the Act, specifies that Alumni Association to be opened for University for past students and workers of the University, including members of the Executive Council of the former Society.

Further, section 27 of the provides for making of Statutes, wherein the same should be made on given matters under the provision, and section 28 provides for procedure of making of such statutes. Section 29, however, provides for the matters which should be provided under the Ordinances of the University and as per section 30 of the Act, the powers dealing with such Ordinances vested with the Executive Council the University. Also insofar as the making of Regulations of the University is concerned the authorities of the University are vested with the powers thereto and such Regulations should be consistent with this Act, Statutes and Ordinances and provide on the matters given under the Act. Provisions of Chatravasa (residence) is also made for all the students of the University except those belonging to People’s Education Council. The provisions as to annual reports, accounting and auditing are also made under the Act.

Section 37 provides that the Adhyapakas of the University should be appointed through a written contract and any disputes in that relation should be referred to the Arbitration Tribunal on the request of such Adhyapaka. Section 39 of the Act, further, makes provisions as to constitution of the pension and provident funds for the benefit of officers of the University to be constituted by the University. Besides all other relevant provisions as has been also provided under the Act, the Act sought to protect the actions of the Officers and employees of the University, against whom no suit or other legal proceeding should be lied if those actions are being taken in good faith or even if the same were intended to be done in pursuance of the provisions of this Act, Statutes or the Ordinances. Lastly, the difficulties which may arise in relation to establishment of University or any Authority thereof, or otherwise, then the President of India being the Visitor of the University should by an order provides for the same in consultation with the Vice- Chancellor thereof.

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Adv. Faim Khalilkhan Pathan