Opposing a PIL challenging its decision to award an honorary D Litt degree to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the Calcutta University today claimed in the high court that its senate is the final authority in deciding an awardee and anybody else is an outsider having no authority to challenge it. The counsel for the varsity, Saktinath Mukherjee submitted before the court that the achievements and eminence of a person itself are reasons for being chosen for the award. The credentials of a person to be given the award are already established and it is not the duty of the syndicate or senate to look for his or her credentials, he told a division bench comprising Acting Chief Justice J Bhattacharya and Justice Arijit Banerjee. Naming some of the past awardees of the D Litt degree such as S Radhakrishnan, Prasanta Chandra Mohalanabis and B C Roy, he contended that the credentials of these personalities were already established and the university senate did not need to check those before deciding to confer the award. They are offered the award and not selected as suggested by the petitioner, Ranjugopal Mukherjee, a former professor of the university, he said. The petitioner has contended that the syndicate or senate decision did not attribute any reason for conferring the award on Banerjee and that it was arbitrary and opaque. On the issue of injury to public interest in conferring of the award to Banerjee, raised in the petition, the counsel submitted that all members of the syndicate had recommended the name of the West Bengal chief minister for the award to the senate, which approved it. State Advocate General Kishore Dutta had opposed the PIL yesterday and claimed that it was a politically motivated petition. Hearing in the case would continue tomorrow. Banerjee was today conferred the D.
Litt degree by the university at its convocation.
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