The University Grants Commission is under the government’s scanner for allegedly violating law to farm out public funds to a private deemed university found undeserving of the tag and run by a influential UGC member.
The UGC has allocated funds for a conference of vice chancellors on November 12 being held at Pune-based Bharati Vidyapeeth, even though the institute is ineligible for the funding, senior commission sources confirmed to HT.
Bharati Vidyapith is among 44 deemed universities found unfit for the tag but given a three-year lifeline to improve by a central review panel set up by human resource development minister Kapil Sibal. The ministry is independently also investigating allegations that the institute violated law in setting up new campuses.
The institute is run by Maharashtra’s politically powerful Kadam family, headed by Shivajirao Kadam who founded Bharati Vidyapith and — in a clear case of conflict of interest — is also a member of the UGC. The chancellor of the institute is Patangrao Kadam, current forests minister in Maharashtra. “The UGC appears to have put out a cocktail of illegality, conflict of interest and wasteful expenditure,” a critical official complained.
Senior UGC officials argued that the meeting was being held under the aegis of the commission itself and so the funding to the organising varsity was justified. But critics — including officials in the HRD ministry — are dismissing this argument as the UGC never conducted mandatory tendering required for a public institution to pick a private entity for a project.
The UGC holds meetings of VCs annually, but these conferences are always hosted by institutes eligible for funding under section 12 (b) of the UGC Act, sources said. The host institute is awarded funds to conduct the meet. HRD ministry officials are questioning how the UGC decided to fund the Pune meet when Bharati Vidyapith is not eligible for public money under the Act.
Critics are also questioning the amount of funding — no such conference has in the past cost more than R12 lakh.