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HindustanTimes Wed,27 Aug 2014

PTU defies CS orders, favours Delhi consultant firm

Jasdeep Singh Malhotra, Hindustan Times  Jalandhar, December 22, 2012
First Published: 21:00 IST(22/12/2012) | Last Updated: 00:23 IST(23/12/2012)

Even as the Punjab chief secretary and then Punjab Technical University (PTU) board of governors (BoG) chairman Rakesh Singh had ordered removal of New Delhi-based NetIIT, a consultant, over three months ago, the university authorities had not only "defied" his orders with impunity but had also allegedly amended the terms of agreement signed with the firm to later transfer Rs. 4 crore in its bank account.

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Instead of cancelling the pact, the university authorities allegedly amended certain payment terms in favour of the firm, sources said, alleging that the university paid a sum of Rs. 36 lakh to the firm headed by Delhi-based Parveen Kumar on September 11, a day after receiving the chief secretary's orders about its removal. Subsequently, Rs. 3.64 crore was transferred to the firm on October 12.

"Nearly Rs. 5 crore had been paid to the said firm within 10 months since January despite the fact that the Punjab and Haryana high court is still scrutinising the appointment of consultants under a contempt of court petition," sources said.

Parveen Kumar and PTU vice-chancellor Rajneesh Arora were friends since they were pursuing engineering at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi. The V-C had allegedly appointed Kumar's firm as consultant without following the due procedure. The posts of the consultants were never advertised in the papers and no applications were invited from the public.

Though the CS had ordered "immediate" removal of the consultants, including Parveen's firm, on September 10, Arora had allegedly taken a completely opposite stand for obvious reasons. The newly appointed chairman SK Munjal is also silent on implementation of his predecessor's orders even as Hindustan Times has posed an RTI query through his Delhi-based office several days ago.

Earlier Rakesh Singh, in an affidavit submitted to the high court in a contempt of court case, had said: "The hiring of consultants by the university was approved through an inadvertent mistake. An order has been issued to the vice-chancellor for withdrawing appointment of the consultants immediately. I tender an unconditional apology for this unintentional mistake," Singh had said.

A day before the court hearing, the technical education director, on the BoG chairman's behalf, issued a letter to the V-C, saying: "The appointment of the consultants shall be cancelled immediately so that the reply of the CS may be filed in the court. You are directed that the order should be issued immediately to cancel these appointments, which were approved during the BoG meeting," the director said.

Technical education minister Anil Joshi, who was in the city, feigned ignorance about the issue. "You have brought the issue into my notice. Now, I will check with the officials concerned," he said, adding certain quarters were out to even level baseless allegations of corruption against him and the university authorities.

Earlier, during a visit to Bholath recently, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal said he had read the news items about non-implementation of the CS orders by the PTU officials and would look into the matter.

Kumar and Arora were not available for comment despite repeated attempts.
 
What's the case
A Jalandhar-based NGO had challenged the alleged irregularities in appointing staffers and selection of the then chief secretary SC Agrawal as the board chairman. The high court, on November 14, 2011, had restrained the PTU and its BoG from making any appointments without its permission. The petitioner filed a contempt petition after the BoG approved hiring of consultants. 

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