West Bengal Education Minister Partha Chatterjee on Wednesday refuted reports that claimed the state was planning to introduce rules that bar teachers from criticising the government’s decisions in public. “...Allegation that the freedom of speech of university professors is being curbed is far from the truth,” said Chatterjee. “A blatant lie. We have made it clear that no such rule is being implemented.”

Chatterjee’s clarification comes after a 28-page draft West Bengal Universities and Colleges (Administration and Regulations) Rules, framed by a seven-member panel, was leaked on Sunday. The rules bar professors from communicating official information without the written permission of the vice chancellor.

“...Violation of the provisions of this statute shall entail disciplinary proceedings against the erring employee,’’ reads Clause 8 of the draft rules, according to The Indian Express.

Teachers will not be allowed to hire a lawyer and all their grievances can only be placed before a tribunal set up by the government, reported The Telegraph. The rules also propose to link teachers’ income with promotion and transfer. The probation period has been extended from one year to three years.

College and university teachers have called the new rules draconian. “They have been formulated only to insult the teachers and bring them under the state government’s control,’’ Jadavpur University Teachers’ Association Assistant Secretary Partha Pratim Ray told The Indian Express. He said teachers, other staff and officials at the university will stage a protest on April 26 against the draft rules.

Syed Tanveer Nasreen, a professor of history in the University of Burdwan, asked why he needs to take the vice chancellor’s permission to comment on matters related to gender, social causes and even politics. “Higher academicians around the world share their opinion in the media freely,” Nasreen told the Hindustan Times.