Mangalore, April 19, 2014: A fresh controversy may tarnish the image of the Mangalore University (MU), over the appointment of a new vice-chancellor. This comes close on the heels of a dispute over recruitments to various posts.
As per procedure, soon after the retirement of Prof T C Shivashankar Murthy on March 3, 2014, the Education department formed a ‘search committee’ to shortlist names.
The search committee comprised Prof K S Rangappa (former VC of Karnataka State Open University), the Governor’s nominee; Prof Kishan Lal (former president of the Indian National Science Academy), the chairman of the search committee; Prof S Bisaliah (former VC of University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore), the MU Syndicate nominee; Prof K Ramakrishna Rao (former chairman of the Indian Council of Philosophical Research and former VC of Andhra University), the UGC nominee.
The committee meeting was scheduled on April 3. However, as Prof Ramakrishna Rao had to travel out of the country, he had informed the persons concerned orally in mid-March and subsequently wrote to them on March 28, explaining his inability to attend the meeting. He had even requested the UGC chairman to find a replacement as he did not want to cause any delay in the selection of the new VC.
However, the panel continued with the meeting as per schedule in the absence of the UGC nominee. It is understood to have shortlisted the names of three persons, including Prof S R Niranjan and Prof K Byrappa. Interestingly, while there are charges of financial frauds against Prof Niranjan in Mysore University, there are charges of plagiarism against Prof Byrappa.
To a query on the absence of UGC nominee, Higher Education department principal secretary Dr Rajneesh Goel said that as per law, the chairperson (of search committee) can take a decision on the same. To another query on why the authorities concerned did not replace the UGC nominee, as Prof Ramakrishna Rao had informed the panel in advance, Goel said, “it was up to the UGC to appoint or not appoint any person.”Efforts to reach UGC chairperson Prof Ved Prakash proved futile.
As the news of the shortlisting of candidates began to spread, a few professors who were waiting for a new vice-chancellor to re-open the files to probe the alleged irregularities during the term of Prof Shivashankar Murthy, were disappointed.
“We had a lot of hope that the new VC will look into the irregularities in the recruitment process. Now, nothing can be done,” said a professor.
The name of the new VC is likely to be announced soon after the elections, either on April 19 or April 21, it is learnt.
A ‘game’ by former VC
Though the government had asked to suggest the name of Syndicate nominee for the selection committee three months ago, Prof Shivashankar Murthy delayed sending the name. In fact, he did not bring the matter to the notice of the Syndicate, though three Syndicate meetings were held during this period.
Prof Sripathi Thanthri, former standing committee member of UGC, said that the matter was placed before the last Syndicate meeting, when the government nominee or governor nominee was not there to discuss it and other members would silently approve what he suggests, alleged Prof Sripathi Thanthri, former standing committee member of UGC.
“Prof Murthy finalised the name of Prof Bisalaiah, one of his close friends, as Syndicate nominee in the selection committee, to hide his frauds and illegal appointments he made.”
Prof Thanthri alleged that another member in the search committee, Dr Rangappa, becoming the Governor’s nominee in the selection committee too is a cause for concern as he is also facing corruption charges.