Former Delhi University vice-chancellor Deepak Pental’s arrest on Tuesday for his alleged involvement in a plagiarism case might have come as a surprise to many, but this case was first taken up in the local court at least five years ago.
In 2009, P Pardha Saradhi filed a private complaint before a Delhi court under various sections of the IPC, including forgery, criminal conspiracy and criminal breach of trust.
Saradhi, who now teaches in DU’s environmental studies centre, alleged Pental had plagiarised his work on genetically-modified Indian mustard, with the help from a research scholar, KVSK Prasad, the other accused in the case.
Saradhi told Newsline that Prasad had worked under him on his PhD thesis and went on to conduct research under Pental. “In connivance with Pental, the research scholar took the seed of codA transgenic Indian mustard developed by my team under India-Japan Cooperate Science Programme. Pental allowed Prasad to use this GM seed for carrying out further research, fully aware that all GM material are put under the tag of ‘Hazardous’ under Environmental Protection Act (EPA),” Saradhi said.
“This was shown as work carried in Deepak Pental’s lab during 2001-2004. Verbatim sentences, exactly same data and similar figures and numbers were copied from the report submitted by us to DST under India-Japan Cooperative Science Programme,” Saradhi alleged.
In 2009, following a complaint filed by Saradhi in Delhi University, a committee was set up to look into the issue. Alleging that the university did not act on his complaint, Saradhi sought information through RTI requests.
He said: “When I saw that the university was not acting on my complaint, I tried to seek information on the action taken on my complaint under RTI Act, but the university still did not take any action. It was only after I sent an appeal to the appellate authority that a committee was formed to look into my complaint. It gave a clean chit to Deepak Pental.”
The counsel for the accused, Samrat Nigam, told Newsline that the committee’s report had indeed given a clean chit to the former V-C.