The PhDs and their ‘sources’

Meghalaya university of record PhDs lists profs nationwide as research guides with,some say surprised,some ‘don’t exist’

Written by Samudra Gupta Kashyap | Shillong | Published:May 21, 2013 3:27 am

Among the seizures from Shillong’s CMJ University,which is under investigation for awarding illegal PhDs and for various other irregularities,is a list of 85 professors from all over the country who are supposedly PhD guides for CMJ scholars. CMJ is an abbreviation for Chandra Mohan Jha,the university’s founder,who is on the run.

The professors named include some from Jamia Millia,IGNOU and other top institutes. Those contacted by The Indian Express said they have never been a PhD guide for CMJ,while two universities said no professor of the name listed is part of their faculty.

CMJ awarded a record 434 PhDs in one academic year,2012-13. It has also awarded various other degrees to 3,397 students and enrolled 490 fresh PhD scholars during 2012-13. As reported earlier,one can acquire a PhD from CMJ by even contacting a dental clinic in Panchkula.

Dr Shruti Shourie of DAV College,Chandigarh,was stunned that CMJ lists her. “How can that be? I have never heard of CMJ University. Moreover,under Punjab University guidelines,one cannot simply become a guide,that too in another university.”

Others who said they were surprised included Dr J K Quamara of NIT Kurukshetra,Tapas Ray Mahapatra (mathematics) of Visva-Bharati,and Dr Ashwani Sharma,dean (academics) at Chandigarh Engineering College in Mohali. “We at NIT are not permitted to take students from any other university,” Dr Quamara said. Mahapatra said,“I don’t even know there is a university by that name.” And Dr Sharma said,“How can I be enrolled when I have never been there? No one from CMJ University has ever contacted me.”

One professor whom CMJ did contact was Dr R S D Wahidabanu (computer science) at Government College of Engineering,Salem. “I did not respond to that letter of request,made a couple of years ago. A scholar did come to me saying he had already registered for PhD under CMJ University. I politely told him I am not interested,” Dr Wahidabanu said.

The list includes a Dr Riyaz Ali,supposedly in Jamia Millia Islamia’s history department,and a Dr Abhay Kumar Pathak,supposedly of IGNOU’s economics. JMI history head Prof Amiya Prosad Sen and IGNOU economics head Prof Gopinath Pradhan both said their faculties had no one with those respective names.

And Dr Bansi Dhar Malhotra,named as a guide in National Physical Laboratory,has voluntarily retired from there and now teaches at Delhi Technical University. He is abroad and could not be reached. His résumé,uploaded on the Asia Sense 2013 website,names 20 research students he has guided or been guiding with their PhDs; none of them is from CMJ.

The man and his rise

Jha had arrived in Shillong in the early 1970s,when Meghalaya was a new state,and bagged a couple of petty supply orders in a government department. He went on to build a business network over the next four decades. Apart from CMJ,where he is ‘Chancellor’,he has been running a number of educational institutions in at several states. He owns the northeastern region’s only private LPG bottling plant,with branches in Meghalaya and Nagaland,and is chairman of JD Health Care (P) Ltd,whose units in West Bengal (in Siliguri) and Sikkim manufacture cosmetic products including ayuvedic balms,shampoos and hair oil.

Jha has claimed to be an MA in public administration and to have acquired a PhD himself,from a university abroad. At the time he set up his university,a résumé submitted to the government mentioned a book he had authored. Published in 2004,the book is in Hindi and called Bhrastachar aur Uska Samadhaan,which means “corruption and its solutions”.

“We are not looking at the other aspects. Our immediate case at hand is the alleged fraud that has been going on in CMJ University,” said S K Jain,additional director general of police,Meghalaya. “How his university gave 434 PhDs in one academic year is in itself worth investigating. One wonders how much money was involved in awarding these PhDs.”

The police have found that CMJ University had also established authorised agents and study centres across the country through which students could acquire degrees in any of the university’s nine faculties as also PhD degrees.

“We have found a list of 85 persons who have been listed as PhD guides with this university. They include professors from Jamia Milia Islamia,Delhi University… as also a scientist,” an official said.

The probe

The CID has been looking for Jha following an FIR by Ranjit Shekhar Mooshahary,the Meghalaya governor. Apart from illegal PhDs,the allegations against him include illegal appointments and violation of various rules laid down by the UGC as well as the Act under which the university was set up.

Two university officials — registrar Mrinal Kanti Deb and deputy registrar Premlal Rai — have been arrested,while the police are looking for Jha and university directors Juban Kharpuri and Dr M K Kaushal,also known as Manjit Kaur.

A regulatory board set up by the state government to look into the activities of various private universities has also carried out a separate investigation into CMJ University’s affairs. A report was submitted to the state government last week,but officials have refused to divulge its contents. What sources did tell The Indian Express was that the university had not submitted its annual report to the government ever since it was set up.

The Meghalaya High Court last week directed CMJ University to stop all admissions until the controversy is resolved. The order came from Chief Justice T Meena Kumari,who dismissed a plea by the university to intervene in the matter.

A district and sessions court has issued non-bailable arrest warrant against Jha,while the Meghalaya CID has sent out alerts across the country to apprehend him. Chief Minister Mukul Sangma said his government would take “stringent” action against CMJ University and all those involved in the “illegal activities” so that it also sends a strong message to all other private universities operating in the state.

Of other universities,Governor Mooshahary has directed the state government to institute a probe into alleged irregularities in Mahatma Gandhi University,while Chief Minister Sangma said several other private universities are under the scanner of his government.

(Inputs by Naveed Iqbal and Varinder Bhatia)

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