Skeletons tumble out of Punjabi University closet
Anomalies have been found in purchase of answer books, fire extinguishers, besides violation of UGC norms and favouritism in job selection in different probespunjab Updated: Apr 30, 2017 09:11 IST
Financial anomalies and mismanagement taken place during the tenure of the former vice-chancellor (V-C) have come to the fore in probes ordered ever since secretary, higher education, Anurag Verma, took reins of the Punjabi University, Patiala, as the officiating V-C. Former vice-chancellor Jaspal Singh had resigned from the post on March 15 after a 10-year tenure.
Wrongdoings have been found in the purchase of fire extinguishers, answer sheets and other paper, besides non-implementation of University Grants Commission regulations, giving a grim insight into how the officials at the helm misused the power and tax-payers’ money.
As per the findings of probes, fire extinguishers were purchased from grocery shops, non-existents firms were shown as submitting quotations for supplying paper, answers sheets were purchased at exorbitant rates, all causing a loss to the tune of Rs 3 crore. Also, 130 clerks were given jobs against the 30 advertised posts, assistant professors got jobs on forged caste certificates, UGC rules were violated with impunity to give jobs to favourities. All this has come to the fore during 16 inquires marked by Anurag Verma.
“It seems, the funds are plundered to fill pockets, while making the university bankrupt. The answer books were purchased without inviting tenders. Only a few chosen suppliers were asked to send their quotations,” said an official dealing with the inquiry.
The Punjab government in 2006 had adopted e-procurement system, including e-tendering, but the university didn’t do it for the reasons known to them.
“It is clear beyond reasonable doubt that the failure to implement e-tendering system for procurement of answer books caused huge and avoidable financial losses to the university. During 2015-16, 18-lakh answer books of 36 pages each and 6 lakh of 24 pages each were purchased without tender, causing a tentative loss of about Rs 60 lakh (see box) for a single academic session. This amounts to Rs 3 crore (approx) for the last five years,” reads a probe report, submitted by a committee of professors.
Sources privy to other probe reports said that during the field checking of fire extinguishers’ purchase, two firms that sent quotations were found non-existent, and another ‘firm’ was a grocery shop. “There is bungling in every purchase from paper to construction,” said a professor, who is also conducting a probe.
The committee looking into paper purchase has demanded a probe through a specialized agency, terming it to be “prima facie a case of large-scale and willful wrongdoing”.
The registrar, sources said, has also penned his report that UGC rules were not followed in the selection of 64 non-NET teachers, who also didn’t possess PhD — a requisite as per the UGC notification.
A report has pointed out that some faculty members were selected on the basis of forged caste certificates. Another has underlined large-scale wrongdoings in the selection of class four employees, for which 30 posts were advertised but 130 were selected.
Another report regarding violation of UGC rules in the selection of contractual teachers says: “In a bizarre case, Jasbir Singh was selected for the University Constituent College, Ghudda, to teach Punjabi, even though the selection panel did not award him a single mark under domain knowledge, teaching skills and interview.”
“It shall be the duty of the vice-chancellor to ensure that the act, statutes, ordinances and regulations are faithfully observed and he shall have all powers necessary for this purpose,” states the university calendar, underlining that the V-C is responsible for any wrongdoing in selections.
Anurag Verma said he has received some reports and going through them. “Let me go through them. Whosoever is found guilty of causing losses to the institution will not be spared. I will act as per the law and the university act,” he said.