Emboldened by the President’s decision to sack Visva-Bharati vice-chancellor Sushanta Dattagupta, the Human Resource Development Ministry has set the ball rolling for the removal of another central university head.
According to sources, the HRD Ministry will approach the Law Ministry next week for a legal opinion before going to the President with the recommendation to dismiss Pondicherry
V-C Chandra Krishnamurthy for committing academic fraud, including holding a fake D.Litt degree.
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Krishnamurthy, who is currently on forced leave, was served a showcause notice by the President on August 21, 2015, to which she hasn’t replied till date. She was appointed Pondicherry University’s first female head by the UPA II government in February 2013 and has little less than two years left in her term.
The University Grants Commission (UGC) had instituted an inquiry against her halfway through her tenure after an indefinite agitation by a section of students and teachers left the institutions paralysed for days. The students and faculty were seeking her ouster for her alleged autocratic behaviour and mismanagement of university affairs.
According to UGC sources, the probe — led by former V-C of Punjab University Jai Rup Singh, former bureaucrat Nita Chowdhury and ex-director of Indian Law Institute K N Chandrasekharan Pillai — found Krishnamurthy had authored only one book against the claim of three in her curriculum vitae and that she lied about guiding nine PhD students and receiving four research projects. The showcause notice sought Krishnamurthy’s response regarding the following six allegations:
The V-C claimed to have authored three books in her CV, but the probe found only one was written by her and 98 per cent of its contents were plagiarised.
The V-C claimed to have written 25 articles in her CV but the probe could trace only one which was also plagiarised.
The inquiry could not find any evidence of her guiding nine PhD students which was mentioned in her CV.
The probe could not find any evidence to prove she held the rank of a professor before becoming Pondicherry V-C.
The V-C failed to handle the students strike.
The V-C extended the tenure of a Director of the Academic Staff College in contravention of the UGC norms that demand selection should be done by a selection committee.
The V-C had challenged the showcause notice twice before the Madras High Court, but her petition was dismissed. In between, the government extended the deadline several times for her to reply to the notice. The last deadline expired on February 22. Krishnamurthy has now challenged the order of the High Court before the Supreme Court. The matter has not been listed for hearing so far.
Sources said the HRD Ministry has decided to process Krishnamurthy’s case as it has given her enough opportunity to present her side of the case. It will seek legal opinion before going to the President, who is the Visitor of all central universities, to build a strong case for her removal.
The development comes just two weeks after the President approved the removal of Visva-Bharati V-C Sushanta Dattagupta for financial and administrative irregularities. His removal was historic as it was the first-ever sacking of a central university head.