Former Punjab Technical University (PTU) vice-chancellor Rajneesh Arora generated “fake” appointment letters of senior-level teachers and “used them as genuine for cheating” to run distance education courses in 2009, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) claims to have found.
In February 2014, the CBI had filed a charge sheet in the Patiala House courts of New Delhi in a July 2012 case against VN Rajashekharan Pillai, then V-C of Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and unidentified office-bearers of the Punjab-run PTU set up in Jalandhar by an Act of state legislature in 1996. The prime allegation against Pillai was that he connived with the PTU office-bearers to give “undue” approval to distance education centres, “ignoring deficiencies pointed out by an expert inspection committee”.
In September 2014, the special judge had directed the CBI to look further into the charges that the PTU functionaries resorted to “cheating and forgery” for securing recognition from Distance Education Council (DEC).
“It is proved conclusively that IGNOU V-C Pillai entered criminal conspiracy with PTU V-C Arora and RPS Bedi (then PTU joint registrar)…” the CBI wrote in its 20-page September 9 report (HT has the copy). The report claims that Arora and Bedi generated 14 fake documents (appointment letters of senior-level teachers for distance education centres) by abusing their official positions. “The dishonest efforts of Arora and Bedi,” said the report, “were fully supplemented by Pillai, who abused his official position to grant the requisite approvals, violating the procedure, and giving credence to the compliance report prepared on the basis of forged and fabricated documents.” “Thus, criminality is clearly made out on part of Pillai, Arora and Bedi,” the CBI report adds.
University sought ex-post facto nod
The PTU had started its distance education programme since 2001. In 2004, it moved the DEC for recognition, which was not accorded. In March 2007, V-C Arora requested IGNOU V-C Pillai to look into the matter. In August 2007, Arora wrote to Pillai to consider their application for “ex-post facto approval” for batches admitted from the year 2001-02 onwards, “in the larger interest of students”.
DEC deputy director Bharat Bhushan opined that if the PTU was given approval, the same would be required to be issued simultaneously to the other universities. “Pillai, however, ignored this suggestion deliberately and granted recognition to PTU vide a note dated 29-8-2007… that ‘being a state university, provisional recognition for one year may be given’,” the CBI report reads.
In September 2009, Arora again wrote to Pillai, seeking permanent approval for distance-education courses, on the grounds that the PTU had implemented the expert-committee recommendations.
The CBI says: “Pillai, ignoring the lawful recommendation of his subordinate wilfully, granted approval (to the PTU) for a period of three years - 2009-10 to 2011-12… in the capacity of DEC chairman, he repeatedly avoided placing the PTU matter before the joint committee (as required under the rules) and ignored the lawful recommendations of his subordinates to seek compliance report from the PTU.”
“There is sufficient evidence, both oral and documentary, that Pillai abused his official position in granting recognition to the PTU,” the CBI report concludes.