Within a week of taking charge as the officiating vice-chancellor of Inder Kumar Gujral Punjab Technical University (PTU), technical education secretary Kahan Singh Pannu has ordered probe into complaints of irregularities received against the varsity in recent years.
Retired Indian Administrative Services (IAS) officer SS Dhillon has been tasked with probing the cases. He is a member of the panel of retired Punjab government officials who can be handed over independent inquiries.
Earlier, too, the state vigilance and anti-corruption bureau had investigated a few of these complaints, but the findings were never made public, due to alleged political pressure. As per orders, dated May 8, Dhillon has to submit the detailed report within one month. This will be the first time that a timebound probe has been ordered into these complaints. Dhillon will be provided facilities like car and temporary accommodation at the varsity.
“In some cases, the complainants had even submitted affidavits along with the proof. But nobody bothered to bring out the truth. Is this the type of system we want in our revered institutes of education?” said Pannu, while confirming the development.
- Irregularities in appointing firms as consultants, coordinators
- Ignoring merit, favouring RSS-backed candidates in faculty appointment
- Forcing students to apply for re-evaluation, ‘cough up’ money
Most complaints pertain to irregularities in appointing firms as consultants, coordinators or facilitators. Allegedly owned by family members or aides of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, most of the firms, which were chosen without following norms, were newly incorporated just before the allotment of the PTU contract. Despite lacking experience in running distance education courses, these firms were allegedly being paid lakhs every month. Jalandhar-based Anti-Corruption Society repeatedly brought the issue to the notice of the authorities, including the then chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, and a vigilance probe was initiated, but to no avail
Dr Rajnish Arora, who remained the PTU vice-chancellor from December 2008 to January 2015, has also been accused of ignoring merit while appointing faculty members. According to the complaints, those close to the RSS and BJP leaders were selected, while ignoring meritorious candidates. Dr Arora has been closely associated with the RSS.
The latest allegation pertained to an alleged “re-evalution scam” being run by the varsity. Punjab and Haryana high court lawyer HC Arora alleged a high percentage of students were declared “fail” in the regular examinations, and were later given passing marks when they applied for re-evaluation and “approached” the officials concerned.