THE UNIVERSITY of Mumbai approved the purchase order to MeritTrac, the agency appointed to conduct onscreen assessment, even before the management council gave a final nod to appoint the agency, according to a response received under the Right to Information Act.
Documents reveal that the purchase order was approved on April 27, a day before the management council decided to go ahead with the appointment of MeritTrac. The agency as well as the university have been in the eye of a storm over the unprecedented delay in declaration of results of the summer semester examinations. The delay affected the future of over 4.5 lakh students and brought embarrassment to the university, eventually leading to the ouster of vice-chancellor Sanjay Deshmukh.
RTI activist Anil Galgali, who had sought information on the appointment of the agency for onscreen assessment, has said the university changed the tender specifications to favour MeritTrac. The documents reveal that the university reduced the minimum annual turnover criterion for contenders from Rs 100 crore to Rs 30 crore. The minimum technical score for qualification was also lowered from 70 to 60 to allow entry to more players.
The documents also reveal that only two agencies showed interest in the tenders — Tata Consultancy Services and MeritTrac. The university had to then extend the deadlines twice before changing the above specifications to get a minimum of three contenders. The third contender, Shree Computers, was, however, disqualified on technical grounds.
Of the two bidders, TCS scored 95 points and MeritTrac 45, much below the required 60 points. However, the university went ahead with Merit Trac, which offered the services at the rate of Rs 23.90 per answersheet, compared to TCS’s Rs 49.90.
“Despite the other company being better-placed for the order, the university chose MeritTrac. This decision cost lakhs of students their future. There should be an inquiry into the matter. I have written to the Chancellor and Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao apprising him of the matter,”said Galgali.
Despite repeated attempts, Vijay Joshi, who headed the tender committee, was unavailable for comments. Meanwhile, MeritTrac clarified that the tender changes did not affect the agency’s chances in the bid. “For the past three years, the turnover of MeritTrac has been over Rs100 crore, so the lowering of criterion was immaterial to us. The tender evaluation committee found our technical presentation stronger than our competitors’. These allegations are wrong,” said Nagendran Sundararajan, executive vice-president of MeritTrac. MU officials were not available for comment.
Action against 3,700 teachers
The Board of Examination Tuesday decided to take disciplinary action against nearly 3,700 teachers who did not turn up for evaluation even once in the summer semester examinations. Showcause notices will be issued to them.