Punjab vigilance bureau to probe Punjabi University ‘fund, hiring scams’

After the university failed to take action on an internal inquiry, the government now has ordered a separate probe to fix the responsibilities of several erring officials, who purchased answer sheets, fire-extinguishers from non-existent firms, besides making recruitments on the basis of fake scheduled caste (SC) certificates.

punjab Updated: Feb 06, 2018 11:38 IST
Vishal Rambani
Vishal Rambani
Hindustan Times, Patiala
Punjab vigilance,vigilance bureau,Punjabi University
Punjabi University, Patiala(HT File )

The Punjab government has ordered the state vigilance bureau to probe alleged irregularities, embezzlement and violations of the University Grants Commission (UGC) rules in Punjabi University, Patiala, in the last decade.

After the university failed to take action on an internal inquiry, the government now has ordered a separate probe to fix the responsibilities of several erring officials, who purchased answer sheets, fire-extinguishers from non-existent firms, besides making recruitments on the basis of fake scheduled caste (SC) certificates.

These inquiries were conducted during the tenure of the then secretary higher education-cum- officiating vice-chancellor of the university Anurag Verma. He was the varsity’s acting V-C from April to August last year. Some student organisations have also been asking university vice-chancellor Dr BS Ghuman to act on these inquiries, but he failed to do so.

University registrar MS Nijjar said the university has sought time from the vigilance bureau to submit the records as it was not feasible to provide these in a week.

After scrutiny the documents provided by complainants, the vigilance has recorded a preliminary inquiry and sent it to senior superintendent of police (VB Patiala range) Pritam Singh to further probe the matter.

Pritam Singh said “I can’t disclose the details but we have formally started the probe and anyone who has proofs of fund misuse can approach us.”

In the case involving the alleged embezzlement in the purchase of fire extinguishers, a complaint has been lodged against former registrar Davinder Singh, former finance officer Baljit Singh Sidhu, sub-divisional officer (SDO) Naresh Kumar Mittal and junior engineer Sanjiv Kumar. The VB has summoned the records of the entire purchase of fire extinguishers.

The internal inquiry had pegged the embezzlement in the purchase of fire extinguishers at Rs 58.4 lakh and smoke-detection alarm systems at Rs 21.4 lakh in three years.

A 4-kg fire extinguisher was bought at Rs 8,229 though the Punjab common rate schedule says it is available at Rs 2,415 apiece. The inquiry report from April 2014 to October 2016 says the purchase of extinguishers was made from a “ghost company”, which did not exist.

The inquiry was ordered by Anurag Verma on a complaint by Prof Pushpinder Singh Gill. The university purchased more than 550 fire extinguishers for various departments and auditoriums.

Despite having a budget allocation of Rs 2.5 lakh each for the three financial years, the university’s fire-fighting wing, headed by JE Sanjeev Kumar, purchased extinguishers on three occasions — at Rs 23.67 lakh, Rs 27.3 lakh and Rs 28.65 lakh.

University registrar MS Nijjar said the university has sought time from the vigilance bureau to submit the records as it was not feasible to provide these in a week. He said he has already marked the vigilance letter to officials concerned to provide requisite documents.

First Published: Feb 06, 2018 11:38 IST