DEFENCE AUTHORITIES appear to be conducting “fact-finding” inquiries into complaints of irregularities, allegedly done over the last six years, in appointment of civilians as academic officers at the National Defence Academy.
NDA sources told this paper that rules on work experience and Academic Performance Indicator (API) points were flouted in several appointments. Criminal and civil complaints have also been filed in courts in a few cases and some officers in NDA have approached the Pune police and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) seeking a probe.
NDA, however, said they are not conducting any fact-finding inquiry though senior officials confirmed that a team from the Southern Command, which has jurisdiction over NDA, recently visited the academy in connection with some complaints.
“The appointment of civilian academic officers including principal, vice-principal, professor and assistant professor at NDA is done through the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). UPSC publishes an advertisement inviting applications in which qualification criteria are listed. Two important criteria are API points and academic experience. Since 2008, at least 15 such appointments have been made,” said an officer at NDA who did not wish to be named.
The officer added, “First, UPSC does a preliminary scrutiny and sends individual dossiers of candidates to the Ministry of Defence for ‘verification of authentication of all essential qualification.’ Then the application is further processed. We believe this verification is not done properly.”
Another officer added, “In many cases, API points have been wrongly calculated deliberately. In some cases, while counting teaching experience, non-approved experience and jobs at non-academic institutions have been counted as academic experience. This means unqualified people are getting into the system and talented people are left out. The cadets, who are going to be the military leadership of the country, are at loss. Some of them have also projected private-aided colleges as autonomous bodies or government-aided bodies to get pension benefits.”
He added, “One appointee even included in his credentials that he had written several books and was awarded ‘Vishishth Seva Medal’ by the President of India, essentially a military honour. After concerns were raised, the mention of the books was removed from his profile and so was reference to the medal.”
He further said, “It must be highlighted that these academic officers have a very important responsibility of training cadets in various subjects including computer science, history, political science and economics. The real concern is that the cadets are in wrong hands.”
Another senior officer confirmed that primary fact-finding inquiries were based on some complaints but a high level inquiry was required to probe the matter thoroughly and find out if there was corruption at any stage.
In an official reply to The Indian Express from the Defence PRO, the NDA spokesperson said, “NDA is not conducting any ‘fact finding’ inquiry into appointment of civilian academic officers, as the appointment is done by UPSC. One individual who was an applicant for the post of a professor but was not selected, approached the Central Administrative Tribunal in New Delhi against the decision of UPSC. The case is sub-judice and hence NDA cannot comment at this stage.”