The UT administration finance secretary Sarvjit Singh has backed Panjab University’s decision to give increments to 68 teachers under the career advancement scheme (CAS) after resident audit officer (RAO) decided to withhold the move.
This happened after PU vice-chancellor Arun Kumar Grover complained against resident audit officer (RAO) for withholding their increments. Singh ruled that once the varsity senate approved promotions, the auditor could not invalidate them as per his understanding and override the senate’s decision in doing so.
Promotions not approved
The RAO had objected to the promotions of 68 teachers on the basis that they were not as per the second amendment in CAS (notified on July 24, 2013) and stopped their annual increments.
According to the second amendment, the University Grants Commission (UGC) had imposed capping across parameters like research publications, workshops and seminars, guidance and consultancy.
However, the PU senate implemented the second amendment from October 31, 2014. On the other hand, teachers had been promoted between July 24, 2013 and October 31, 2014 (effectively before the notification was implemented).
In a letter to the finance secretary, PU registrar Colonel GS Chadha (retd) expressed there was anxiety and disquiet among senior faculty members. In his letter, Chadha said, “We wish to plead that promotion cases of teachers, the due date of which falls between the period July 24, 2013 and October 31, 2014 may be admitted and annual increment released by the audit on the basis of undertakings to be given by such teachers to the effect that in case any adverse clarification is given by the UGC, their pay shall be refixed as per directive of UGC and they shall be liable for reimbursement of any excess payment made to them. Needless to add, all the affected faculty members are regular employees of the university.”
The finance department had also raised this issue in its earlier letter dated February 5, 2015, and asked the university to review the promotions on the complaint of RK Singla.
Chadha said the audit objections were then considered by the two governing bodies of the university - the senate and syndicate - during their meetings after February 5, 2015, which justified the promotions and that the matter was also intimated to UGC on October 7, 2015, adding that there was no communication/ directive from UGC thereafter.
‘Senate is highest authority’
In a letter written by finance secretary, dated February 10 to PU - whose copy is also marked to the examiner and local fund accounts - said, as per paragraph 1.9 (e) of the university accounts manual ‘any objections which the examiner, local fund accounts, refuses to withdraw of which he has specially like to be brought to the notification of the syndicate/senate shall be reported to the board of finance and syndicate/senate whose decision shall be final and binding.’
He further wrote: “It emerged that job of the auditor is to preaudit and approve for payment bills put up to it. Auditor however cannot arrogate to himself an authority superior to that of senate and start validating or invalidating as per his understanding, decisions taken by senate, such as of promotions of staff on career progression etc. Senate is the highest governing body of the university endowed with autonomy by MHRD. It is answerable for its actions to the MHRD, UGC from where it receives funding or to Courts of Law.”
Grover said, “Teachers have to give an undertaking now and their dues will be released. But if UGC objects, promotions will be re-looked.”
Panjab University Teachers Association (PUTA) president Akshaya Kumar said, “A deliberate impression was created that PU promoted teachers without due merit and teachers had to undergo trauma. Arbitrariness and arrogance of RAO will come to an end.” The present RAO SP Singh refused to comment.