Serious allegations of corruption on Vice-Chancellor of Central University of Gujarat; appointed his wife as professor

Central universities are public-funded institutions, established by Acts of Indian Parliament. They are supposed to adopt the best practices of governance and follow a transparent process of admission offering equal access to higher education to students from all categories based on adjusted merit for affirmative action.

The Central University of Gujarat, however, presents a case of high irregularities and arbitrariness in the admission process for academic year 2016-17. Some aspect of this came out in public when a student from Other Backward Caste, Kalyani Pradhan, raised a number of grievances with respect to the admission process. Further investigation into the issue resulted in explosive detail of illegalities and irregularities committed under the leadership of present Vice-Chancellor Prof. S. A. Bari.

First, the university led by Prof. Bari has accorded the least importance to the admission process of the university. On 1st March 2016, an Admission Committee (A.D.) was constituted with 11 teachers but in which not a single member is a professor. The university had a total of 8 professors (including deputation) that that time but Prof. Bari felt no need to include any professor in the Admission Committee which is going to decide the overall policies with respect to admission process. In the Admission Committee there were only 3 Associate Professors and rest 8 were Assistant Professors. One would wonder how could the university delegate the critical task of admission process to such a committee not having any professor as it member.

CUG Admission Committee 2016-17

Member Name Designation Social Category
Dr. Sanjay Kumar Jha, Chairperson Associate Prof. General [Sub-category: Brahmin]
Dr. Atanu Bhattacharya Associate Prof. General [Sub-category: Brahmin]
Dr. Jaya Prakash Pradhan Associate Prof. General
Dr. Umesh C.S.Yadav Assistant Prof. General
Dr. Atul Mishra Assistant Prof. General [Sub-category: Brahmin]
Dr. Litty Denis Assistant Prof. General [Sub-category: Minority]
Dr. Pramod Kumar Tiwari Assistant Prof. General [Sub-category: Brahmin]
Dr. Prakash Jha Assistant Prof. General [Sub-category: Brahmin]
Dr. Zakia Firdaus Assistant Prof. General [Sub-category: Minority]
Dr. Rajesh Vasita Assistant Prof. SC
Dr. Bhawana Pathak Assistant Prof. General [Sub-category: Brahmin]
Controller of Examination to Co-oversee the Admission Process
Dr. Sanjeev Kumar Dubey, COE (In-charge) Associate Prof. General [Sub-category: Brahmin]

Second, except an Associate Professor, who was the Dean of School of International Studies, none other Deans are members of the Admission Committee. Third, the social composition of Admission Committee is another evidence to the fact that how admission process was treated as least importance and non-inclusive by the university. Leaving one faculty belonging to SC category, rest of Admission Committee members comes from general category alone. Not a single ST faculty or OBC faculty were represented in the Admission Committee. So clearly the starting step of the university for admission begun with inbuilt non-inclusive process and intention. Fourth, one member of the Admission Committee (Dr. Pathak) was a contractual faculty. The University had more than 45 regular Assistant Professor but the decision to include a contractual faculty in the Admission Committee is unexplainable. As per the existing UGC Regulation e.g. UGC Letter No. D.O. No F. 1O-6/2011(PS) Misc. dated 6th July 2015, contractual faculty are not eligible to supervise the M.Phil.-Ph.D. students but here a contractual faculty was given the responsibility of entrance process and decide the criteria for admission into research programmes.

In view of the above fact, it is least surprising that irregularities have surfaced in the admission process of the university attracting grievance complaints from students. It is alleged that the Admission Committee has arbitrarily changed the criteria to prepare merit list of admission from ‘written and interview’ marks to ‘interview’ marks only in the middle of the admission process and interestingly kept 100 marks for interview. The department level interview panel used their arbitrary power and randomly gave interview time to students even to the extent of 5 minutes consisting of a few questions and selected candidates for admission.

It is also alleged that admission process of the university was less affirmative to the OBC sections of the students. Following the Hon’ble Supreme Court judgments (P.V. Indiresan vs Union Of India & Ors on 18 August, 2011 (CIVIL APPEAL NO. 7084 OF 2011) and P.V. Indiresan & Ors. v. Union of India – (2009) 7 SCC 300) educational institutions, as part of their affirmative action, can give relaxation to OBC category at most 10 per cent less than that of general category students in minimum eligibility marks or minimum qualifying marks. However, university has failed to grant any relaxation to OBC candidates at the stage of prescribing minimum eligibility in the qualifying examination as well as in the cutoff of qualifying mark in written test to be called for interview.

The Admission Committee through the prospectus prescribed 55% (50% in case of SC/ST and PWD students) marks in Master’s degree in any discipline (or an equivalent grade point) to be eligible for applying to integrated M.Phil.-Ph.D. degree programmes. Once again the Admission Committee decided that the minimum cutoff will be 40% for general and OBC candidates, and 35% for SC/ST, PWD and KM candidates for eligible to be called for viva voce.

As per the Hon’ble Supreme Court judgments, when general category candidates were prescribed 55 per cent of minimum eligibility marks in the qualifying examination by the CUG, those belonging to OBC were eligible for relaxation up to 49.5 per cent (that is 55 less 10% of 55). Similarly, when minimum cutoff was decided at 40 per cent for general candidates in written test to be shortlisted for interview, those belonging to OBC were eligible for relaxation up to 36 per cent (that is 40 less 10% of 40).

In the absence of relaxation in the minimum eligibility marks in the qualifying examination, OBC candidates having marks from 49.5 per cent to 54 per cent become ineligible to apply for admission to the CUG. Similarly, those OBC candidates who participated in the written test but secured marks from 36 to 39 turn ineligible for attending the interview.

The Admission Committee acted secretively and this change in criteria was not made public except among the departments within the University. Most unfortunately the University has not uploaded omnibus list of candidates undertaken the written test and interview and marks secured therein. These are basic information which are voluntarily and proactively disclosed under a transparent admission process. Even it is learnt that the university has declined to give this basic information even under the RTI Act 2005. This clearly verify that admission process of the university is not so transparent.

Prof. S. A. Bari has a historical record of paying less attention to the admission process. As the Registrar (Evaluation) at Kuvempu University he was the custodian of marks cards and answer scripts in the Examination Section and his period of Registrar (Evaluation) overlap the period when massive fake marks card and answer scripts scam took place at Kuvempu University. This Scam came to light in May 2012 when Karnatka police busted a racket pertaining to issuance of fake marks cards and awarding high marks to students by taking bribes, this is the time when Prof. Bari was the holding the charge of Vice-Chancellorship at Kuvempu University.

He has also allegedly appointed his wife Dr. Rachel Bari on the  the post of professor which is a controversial appointment as he misused his power to appoint her and some media alleges that appointment of his wife is illegal.

Also Read: Corruption in CUG: VC’s wife appointed as a professor illegally, claims a journalist

As the Central University of Gujarat is a national institution, it is utmost important that the issues related to Admission Process is investigated properly and thoroughly. Students of the country deserve a fair admission process and not the one which is arbitrary, non-inclusive and secretive.