The Supreme Court on Monday ordered the formation of a search-cum-selection committee to oversee the appointments of vice-chancellors for state-run universities in West Bengal, Live Law reported.

A bench of Justices Surya Kant and KV Vishwanathan was hearing a petition filed by the Trinamool Congress government in West Bengal against interim vice-chancellor appointments made by Governor CV Anand Bose in 13 universities. The state government has challenged a Calcutta High Court order from June last year that upheld the appointments.

The governor is the chancellor of all the universities in the state. The vice-chancellor of a university is appointed by the chancellor from a panel of three names recommended by the state government.

On Monday, the court said that the search-cum-selection committee, headed by former Chief Justice of India UU Lalit as its chairperson and including five members, will be constituted within two weeks, PTI reported.

The committee will prepare a panel of three names of candidates suitable for the post of a vice-chancellor for a university. This list would then be given to the chief minister, the bench said.

If the chief minister finds a candidate unsuitable, she should submit remarks to this effect and supporting material to the chancellor within two weeks, the court said. The chief minister is also entitled to recommend the shortlisted names in the order of preference to the chancellor, it added, Live Law reported.

The bench said that the chancellor would then appoint the vice-chancellors as recommended by the chief minister.

The chancellor, however, could also include their own opinion if they had reservations about the shortlisted candidates or the remarks made by the chief minister against a name, the court said.

The bench said that the appointments have to be notified by the state government within a week of receiving approval from the chancellor.

In case of a deadlock between the governor and the state government about the shortlisted names, the court would make the final decision after hearing both sides, the bench noted. It added that the entire process of appointing a vice-chancellor had to be completed within three months, according to Live Law.

The bench also directed the state government to file a status report on its compliance with the order to form the committee before the next date of hearing, PTI reported.

In April this year, the top court was told that the governor had agreed to fill six vacancies for the post of vice-chancellor with names given by the state government. The state government was directed by the bench to send a list of candidates for the remaining posts, Live Law reported.

At the next hearing, it was submitted that the chancellor had found seven candidates unsuitable out of the 15 names recommended by the state government for 15 universities and did not consider the rest. In response, the court told both sides that it would appoint the positions if it was not done amicably.

On May 18, the court directed that the remaining eight out of the 15 candidates be appointed to the position within a week, Live Law reported. It then asked the state government to send more candidates to the governor for the remaining seven positions.