In what could be the reaction to University Grants Commission’s pointing out “extra money” being paid to him, Panjab University vice-chancellor Arun Kumar Grover has said that the varsity is being ‘controlled by a mafia’ who are out to ruin the institution.
Talking to Hindustan Times in his office here on Sunday, visibly angry V-C said he was referring to certain senators and syndics, who are the decision-makers of the university, and the officials of the UT administration who audited the university. The V-C also referred to the senators as “vultures who are trying to tear the varsity apart”.
The V-C’s remarks come close on the heels of the controversy that erupted following a letter from the University Grants Commission (UGC) pointing out that the V-C and the registrar were being paid extra amount as part of their salaries, which needed to be recovered from them.
Asked to specify what he meant by the mafia, the furious-looking V-C said, “What else would you call it when a Hindi or Punjabi professor gets elected to the syndicate on behalf of the science fraternity. How can a Hindi or a Punjabi professor represent the syndicate from the medical fraternity?”
“There’s a case of a Muktsar college mathematics lecturer who represented medical fraternity and that too unopposed. This is mafia,” he said.
He said the UT administration auditors were hand-in-glove with some RTI activists and they ‘use’ them to meet their personal interests. “Letters from certain RTI activists are sent straight to the UGC as it is,” he said.
Asked why he was being targeted, he said it was an attempt to distract attention from key issues. “The problem is the upcoming meeting on September 3,” he said. “There are crucial agenda items in the meeting and some people here want to protect their friends, which is why they are using this tactic. But I won’t allow it.”
Alluding to the senators as vultures, he said, “Vultures are out to tear this prestigious institution apart, and their elections are on these days. This university has 90 senators and they are the 90 vultures.” “One can be a member of four faculties. They add one more member of their choice called as added member which makes it 540 vultures.”
He said no other university has any member other than the faculty. “This is the only Indian university that has less professors and more vultures,” he said.
‘UGC exceeding its jurisdiction’
Grover said the UGC exceeded its jurisdiction in sending the letter with regard to his salary and perks and ordering the recovery of the “extra amount” being paid to him and the registrar. He said it’s the chancellor, not the UGC, who determines the pay of the V-C.
The UGC in its letter on August 24 had pointed out the “discrepancies” in the pay of the V-C and the registrar. The V-C and the registrar (who was also present in the V-C’s office during this interview) stated that the letter still hasn’t reached the university. “I will take it up with the HRD ministry and also the chancellor, but for that I first need to get the letter,” he said. He cited the Section 10 of the Panjab University Act that reads: “The chancellor shall determine the amount or remuneration and other service conditions of the vice-chancellor.”
It adds that such terms and conditions shall not be altered to the disadvantage of the vice-chancellor during his term of office.
To further bolster his case, the V-C cited a September 2012 letter sent from the vice-president’s secretariat (vice-president of India is also the PU’s chancellor). It had approved the personal allowance to Grover of Rs 13,187 in order to “protect his last pay drawn and allow him to avail the benefit of annual increment at the rate of 3% as would be admissible to him in his previous post which shall be added in the personal allowance on annual basis.” There’s another letter from the Union human resource development ministry that cites the Section 10 of the PU Act, saying that the chancellor is vested with powers to decide the pay of the V-C.