The director, public instructions (DPI), colleges, has initiated an inquiry against Sukhbir Singh Thind, the principal of Government Mahindra College, for allegedly pushing privatisation in the 140-year-old college in the garb of college’s higher education institute society (HEIS).
The inquiry was marked in December by secretary, higher education, after a Patiala resident sent a legal notice to the state government alleging gross violations of government norms at the college on the pretext of new academic courses started in the past three years.
The said society was constituted in the college in 2006 under a state government policy to start information and communication technology courses across government colleges in Punjab and develop technical workforce in their respective areas. The entire requisite IT infrastructure in the college was to be established, managed and run by the society on self-sustaining revenue model.
The complainant alleged that following the mandate of the society, the college started a number of courses like Bachelors of Computer Education (BSC), Post-Graduate Diploma in Computer Applications (PGDCA) and MSc in information technology (IT).
“However, after Thind took over as the college principal in 2012, started the reckless pursuit of introducing multiple courses in arts, law, agriculture and science streams under the society in clear contravention of its aims and objectives and allegedly in connivance with the higher ups of Punjabi University, with which the college is affiliated,” the complainant alleged.
The complaint further stated that the various courses offered by the society had a much higher fee, on par with private colleges, despite the fact that the society had grabbed almost all buildings, infrastructure and classrooms of the state-funded courses.
“No law permitted the college principal to start courses other than those in the IT stream, and fully privatised courses in the garb of the society charge huge fee from poor students,” the complaint read.
The complainant also alleged that no audit was done of the funds generated by the society.
Apart from these illegalities, Thind also applied for the establishment of an education college affiliated to the National Council of Teacher Education, Jaipur, under the society and diverted huge funds towards the application fee without the state government’s permission.
Besides, even as the college had a capacity of no more than 3,000 students, Thind’s reckless construction for sake of new courses under the society had destroyed the historical college’s green belts. Worse, all these constructions were done by the contractor at his will while ignoring government agencies, the complaint concluded.
Disparity in fee structure
Even as the fees of state-funded courses at the college, traditionally known for its arts and science courses and catering lower and middle-class students, varies between Rs 7,000 and Rs 9,000 per year, the courses introduced by the college’s higher education institute society ranges from Rs 20,000 to over Rs 45,000.
A senior teacher at the college, wishing not to be named, said the courses started by the society should have been started by the college with government permission, as then the fee would have been comparatively quite lesser.
Principal’s office not helping: inquiry officer
One of the two inquiry officers in the case, SK Kaushik, who is the principal of State Education College, Patiala, said the principal’s office did not provide documents related to the inquiry during the probe. “In the preliminary report submitted to the DPI, it has been mentioned that some vital documents were not provided,” he added.
Gurman Singh, deputy controller, finance and auditing, DPI, is the other inquiry officer.
A senior official, seeking anonymity, said the principal might face suspension if the college failed to cooperate in the inquiry.
While DPI, colleges, TK Goyal confirmed the development, he refused to divulge details before completion of the inquiry. Principal Thind did not come on record.