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Saturday, November 28, 2020

As then BAU V-C, JD(U) MLA Mewalal Choudhary ‘responsible for bungling’: Probe

On Thursday, Melawal Choudhary, newly elected MLA from Tarapur on a JD(U) ticket, resigned as Bihar Education Minister within an hour of taking charge.

Written by Santosh Singh | Patna | Updated: November 21, 2020 8:37:52 am
Mewalal chaudhary, bau appointments, ex blu vc, Bihar minister resigns, Bihar Education minister, Tejaswi yadav, Nitish Kumar, Indian ExpressJD(U)’s Mewalal Choudhary (Source: Facebook)

In a severe indictment of Mewalal Choudhary’s role in appointments during his tenure as vice-chancellor of Bihar Agriculture University (BAU), Sabaur, the inquiry commission of retired Patna High Court judge, Justice Syed Mohammed Mahfooz Alam, has held him “responsible for large-scale bungling, favouritism and manipulation”.

An FIR was registered by Sabaur police in 2017 based on the commission’s 2016 report.

On Thursday, Chaudhary, newly elected MLA from Tarapur on a JD(U) ticket, resigned as Bihar Education Minister within an hour of taking charge.

The inquiry report — The Indian Express has accessed a copy – states: “I have come to conclusion that large-scale bungling, favouritism, interpolation, manipulation, addition and subtraction in academic points of candidates, overwriting in remarks column, and thereby changing remarks and violation of provision of Statute, had been done in the selection and appointment of assistant professor/junior scientists for extraneous consideration in order to appoint favourite candidates. Since Dr Mewalal, then VC-cum-chairman of Selection Board, was in a position to influence everyone, as such I hold him responsible for such large-scale bungling, favouritism and manipulation.”

The case against Choudhary – of cheating, breach of trust by public servant and criminal conspiracy – relates to appointment of 161 assistant professors and junior scientists in 2012 during his tenure as BAU V-C between 2010 and 2015 .

The Justice Alam Commission was set up by the Governor, who is also Chancellor of state universities, after a complaint against Choudhary held him mainly responsible for “bungling, favouritism and manipulation” in those appointments. The BAU had advertised 281 vacancies for these posts in 2011.

The report asks how and why Choudhary appointed 161 candidates when the selection board had cleared only 115 names. It also asks why other members of the selection board remained “mute spectators”.

In his inquiry, Justice Alam found “disparity” in the number of candidates selected for appointment as per merit and selection list, and the list of candidates appointed.

The report stated: “The appointment list supplied by the university shows that 161 candidates were appointed against the advertisements, but from merit list, I find names of only 115 candidates appear among candidates ‘selected for appointment’, against whom remarks ‘SL for selected’ have been incorporated in handwriting of the chairman of the board, Dr Mewalal Choudhary.”

The report states that Choudhary, in his testimony before the commission, had “admitted that he himself had filled up remarks and other columns”. Other witnesses have admitted that these columns were filled up Choudhary, the report noted.

The report mentioned that Choudhary had put “excellent” remarks against some candidates. He had told the commission that he meant “very good performance” with those remarks of “excellent”, but that it did not mean they were selected. It said this was corroborated by the non-selection of a candidate – Sovan Debnath – who had appeared in interview for Social Science. “His name appears in SL No. 310 and in remarks he was judged “excellent”, but in the list of ‘appointed candidates’, his name does not appear…(which) proves that ‘excellent’ is not equivalent to being selected,” the report stated.

The inquiry report stated: “All circumstances indicate that it was done at the instance of Dr Mewalal Choudhary…who was single-handedly dealing all candidates at the time of interview and performing the job of posting of marks to candidates in interview, doing tabulation work and then allotting total marks to candidates, and finally giving remarks to candidates for their performance.”

The commission found at least 20 candidates who were not selected despite their excellent academic records by getting 50 to 59 marks/points on scale on 80, as they were given 0.1 to 2 marks/ points in interview and presentation (on scale of 10 each). In contrast, the report noted at least a dozen instances in which candidates with 28 to 39 marks out of 80 were selected because they got full marks for interview and presentation.

The Vigilance Department is yet to file a chargesheet against Choudhary, who is out on bail. In its case (4/2017), the Vigilance, however, has filed chargesheet against two others.

Bhagalpur DIG Sujit Kumar said, “A supplementary chargesheet may be filed in the case.” The investigation is delayed by the pandemic.

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