NEHU VC Prof SK Srivastava
NEHU Vice-Chancellor Prof SK Srivastava. Image credit - southasiaviews.com

Three organizations of Meghalaya including the teachers’ association of North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU) submitted a joint memorandum to President Ram Nath Kovind with a request to restrain NEHU Vice Chancellor Prof. SK Srivastava from ‘gross misuse and abuse of power’.

The organizations which have submitted the memorandum to the President of India include Meghalaya Tribal Teachers’ Association (MeTTA), North-Eastern Hill University Teachers’ Association (NEHUTA), Meghalaya Confederation for Academic Welfare (MeCAW).

“The MeTTA, NEHUTA and MeCAW have submitted a joint memorandum to the President of India requesting that gross misuse and abuse of power by term expired Prof. SK Srivastava be restrained as such arbitrary acts of Prof. Srivastava constitutes gross violation of rule of law and University rules,” said a joint statement issued by the three organizations.

“In the joint memorandum addressed to the President, the three bodies sought his intervention in resolving repeated and continuous violation of all rules by Prof. SK Srivastava and his coteries in serious matters like abdication of VC’s office on January 4 and January 7, 2021 without handing over the charge and appointment of PVC as Chief Vigilance Officer by violation all rules and attempts at conducting recruitment,” the joint statement said.

Also read: Meghalaya: Joint Action Committee to discuss extension of NEHU Vice-Chancellor’s tenure on Friday

The joint statement was issued by MeTTA president Dr L. Kma, NEHUTA president Prof. Xavier P. Mao and MeCAW chairman Roykupar Synrem.

The three bodies stated that a “term-expired VC taking policy decisions and conducting functions that have long-term consequence amounts to subversion of standards and it crosses all ethical boundary”.

“How can a term expired Prof. SK Srivastava, who is extended indulge into such flagrant violation of rules in order to carry out functions with long term implications?” the organizations questioned.

Also read: Meghalaya: Tenure of NEHU Vice-Chancellor Prof SK Srivastava extended despite opposition

Appointment of Prof. H. Lamin as CVO, in spite of being the PVC and being involved in ‘tendering, procurement and recruitment’ is a “gross violation of rule of law as a person involved in tendering etc. is explicitly debarred from holding office of CVO in Central Vigilance Commission manual, 2017”, they said.

The PVC and CVO, being the same person and the same person chairing ‘tendering, recruitment and procurement’ means that as CVO, the same person shall have access to evidences on which serious charges of anomaly and corruption might subsist, they added.

In reply to an RTI query, the Central Vigilance Commission made it clear that they are simply not aware of appointment of CVO by NEHU since January 1, 2021, which they should have known, as per procedure established by rule.

The RTI reply makes it clear that the appointment of CVO did not follow the 2 procedure of appointment prescribed by CVC manual, 2017, the oganisations alleged.

“Therefore, appointment of PVC as CVO not only vitiates the neutrality of the position of CVO, but it establishes a collusion between those who are involved in malpractices and the CVO, as the CVO is involved in works like ‘tendering, procurement and recruitment’, which are supposed to be subject matters of investigation by CVO,” the joint statement said.

The UGC has already written to secretary to the Union education ministry to consider enquiry and to take appropriate action, on receipt of serious complaints of violation of rules of the University by the Vice Chancellor Vide F.No.35-20/2012(CU)/ dated January 12, 2021.

The Government of India circular, issued by erstwhile MHRD letter F.No.19-58/2014-Desk (U) dated August 7, 2014 clearly stated, “an officer appointed to perform current duties of an appointment can exercise administrative or financial power but he cannot exercise statutory powers, whether those powers are derived direct from an act of parliament.”

“The term extended VC has to be governed by this important normative, legal and ethical restraint, as per the laid out rule,” the statement said.

In this context, attempt made by Prof. SK Srivastava to initiate process of recruitment is nothing but an undue exercise at this stage, when his term expired and the process of selection of the new incumbent reached its final stage.

Terming the acts of the VC and PVC as “arbitrary, irresponsible and irregular propensity”, the three organizations asserted that “the University administration needs to be relieved of mess as soon as possible in larger public interest”.

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