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HindustanTimes Tue,02 Sep 2014

Illegal hiring puts Patiala university in firing line

Vishal Rambani and Navrajdeep Singh , Hindustan Times  Patiala, September 27, 2013
First Published: 22:20 IST(27/9/2013) | Last Updated: 22:21 IST(27/9/2013)

 The appointment of 55 members of faculty has landed Punjabi University here in he soup, as the Punjab government has termed the hiring "in violation of the UGC rules" and declined to clear the salaries.

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The hired assistant professors now work in different departments and colleges. In 2009, University Grants Commission (UGC) amended its laws, stating that besides candidates who had cleared the UGC National Eligibility Test (NET) or earned Junior Research Fellowship (JRF), only PhD-degree holders who had received post-doctorate credentials under the new rules were eligible for teaching posts in universities.

In 2011, the university bent these rules to relax the eligibility criteria, yet in advertisements for different posts, mentioned that recruitment would to be done based on the UGC guidelines. A seven-member committee constituted then allowed applications from candidates who had received PhD degrees before 2009, and also exempted PhD holders from clearing NET.

It didn't publish any corrigendum regarding the amendments in recruitment rules. The university, later, scrapped the screening committee allegedly to clear the way for selecting candidates who were either low on merit or related to the university authorities or some influential people in politics. All posts were filled just before the announcement of the Punjab elections.

"It's a case of cheating the students. What education will these unqualified teachers be able to give them?" said a senior member of the faculty. The university has tried its best but failed to get the Punjab government to clear the appointments. The university wanted the amendments approved on the pattern of Himachal Pradesh and Haryana, by brining an item in the Punjab cabinet meeting, but many applicants moved the Punjab and Haryana high court against the recruitment process.

"Why are you taking up the issue after three years? What is the purpose of changing the UGC guidelines?" wrote Punjab higher education secretary to the university, asking it to get clearance from the UGC. Even with the audit department's objections, the university continues to give salaries to the assistant professors.

State government auditor Ashok Kumar Puri confirmed the objections. "No university can change the UGC rules," he said. A candidate had submitted an affidavit to the chancellor to mark an inquiry, but the vice-chancellor failed to act. V-C Jaspal Singh was unavailable for comments and registrar AS Chawla said matter was being taken up with the Punjab government.

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