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Teacher recruitment at 6 AIIMS under cloud

A central inquiry committee has found major lapses in the recruitment of teachers for the six new AIIMS set up in different parts of the country, holding the director of AIIMS Patna and a private firm responsible for the mess.

india Updated: Sep 17, 2014 08:37 IST

A central inquiry committee has found major lapses in the recruitment of teachers for the six new AIIMS set up in different parts of the country, holding the director of AIIMS Patna and a private firm responsible for the mess.

The health ministry panel discovered that a private firm was selected without open tendering and provided software that could be easily manipulated to favour candidates applying for teaching positions. The probe also revealed that at AIIMS Patna alone, 18 of the 69 people hired as faculty either had the wrong degree or lacked experience.

HT has accessed a copy of the report, which prompted the CBI last week to take up the case for further investigation. It also has copies of draft audit reports that highlight major financial irregularities in several of the six new institutes.

The committee – headed by Vikas Arya, a director in the health ministry -- was set up on May 15 by then health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad to inquire into the role of AIIMS Patna, responsible for recruiting the faculty for all six institutes.

The investigation said AIIMS Patna director Dr G K Singh was responsible for the recruitment mess and found “no tender process was done to hire a software/IT consulting firm” by him. When quizzed, “he gave completely misleading information”, the report added.

The firm – Netcellence Technologies & Sciences Pvt Ltd – was awarded the contract to process the 6,500 online applications for faculty positions at the six new AIIMS in Patna, Bhubaneshwar, Bhopal, Raipur, Rishikesh and Jodhpur.

“It is surprising that a work of this magnitude was awarded on the basis of quotation where even basic credentials of participating firms were not checked” said the inquiry report.

Investigations also found the software used for shortlisting candidates “could be easily manipulated to generate names to specific lists”.

Netcellence operates out of a tiny office at the Science & Technology Entrepreneurs Park (STEP) block of the JSS Academy of Technical Education in Noida. Its CEO Shishir Jain told HT that he won the project “on merit after a transparent and fair procedure and not due to favours by any government officer”.

The committee, however, suspected that the other three companies that bid for the contract were fronts for Netcellence. One of them, Career Age.Com, operates out of Jain’s residence, HT found.

“This is the office of Career Age.com. Shishir Jain was a member of this company earlier but isn’t running it. I run this company now,” said a lady, refusing to identify herself.

The probe also found some of the teachers recruited at AIIMS Patna got their PhD degrees much after being cleared by high-powered selection committees. For instance, a professor with a PhD degree in zoology was inducted into the department of anatomy and laboratory medicine. “If this is the case in just one institute, we are sure inquiries into others will show up many more,” a senior health ministry official told HT.

The health ministry has already issued a confidential memorandum against Singh, leveling twelve specific charges for various administrative and financial lapses.

Singh, however, is defiant. “All recruitments followed criteria laid down in the official advertisement approved by the health ministry. I was the nodal officer but all recruitments were conducted by high-powered selection committees and approved by the ministry. The problems highlighted in Patna will also apply to the other five institutes,” he said.