As human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani urged the Delhi University vice-chancellor on Saturday to “reinstate” officials who were reported to have been suspended for leaking documents related to her undergraduate admission and admit card, the university claimed that no such action had been taken against employees.
On Friday, DU’s media coordinator had confirmed that five non-teaching staff of the university’s School of Open Learning had been suspended for “accessing the system in an inappropriate manner and leaking confidential files”. However, on Saturday, the DU VC said he had learnt that no suspension order was issued to any employee of the school, but that SOL had been directed “to ensure that such incidents do not occur in the future”.
On Saturday morning, Irani had tweeted that she had requested the VC to reinstate the officials. “Since DU is an autonomous institution I have put forth my personal appeal to the VC to reinstate the officials. In public life one should be open to scrutiny and criticism. So am I,” the Union HRD Minister wrote.
A statement issued by DU VC Dinesh Singh hours later denied the staff had been suspended. “The university has learnt that no suspension order has been issued to any employee of the School Of Open Learning. The university views with grave concern the matter of leakage of information related to the personal records of any student of the School of Open Learning. Such records are held by the school in a fiduciary capacity and are not available to the public at large. The university condemns such action in the strongest possible terms. Further, it has directed the School of Open Learning to ensure that such incidents do not occur in the future,” the statement said.
The VC’s office further clarified that “the decision to suspend employees was a prerogative of the college’s governing body and not the university’s” and that “the decision to further inquire into the matter would also be undertaken by SOL”.
The news of the suspension had invited backlash from teachers, students and university karmacharis. While NSUI students protested outside North Campus on Saturday, Delhi University Karmachari Association president Rajpal said they had held a meeting with the VC to urge him to revoke the suspension. “He assured us that he would make sure the five employees were re-instated by Monday,” Rajpal claimed.
The Congress also condemned the “action” against SOL staff, as “vindictive” or “vengeful”. “This smacks of not only arrogance but of high-handedness. Maybe it is a precursor to the manner in which this government wants to conduct the affairs of the nation,” Manish Tewari said.
After Irani sought revocation of the reported suspension, Digvijaya Singh tweeted, “Thanks Smriti for appealing to VC DU for reinstating DU officials. Now let people of this Country know your actual Educational Qualification”.
On Friday, admitting the suspension, DU media coordinator Malay Neerav had said: “It has been confirmed by SOL authorities that five non-teaching staff have been suspended for accessing the system in an inappropriate manner and leaking confidential files without required permission from SOL authorities. All who have been suspended are from section officer rank or below. The officials themselves admitted that they had leaked the documents.” Senior officials at SOL had also confirmed the suspension, adding that “the decision was taken after moving the files through the required channels”.