Pondicherry V-C has a problem: CV has a suspect book, two that can’t be traced

The documents accessed by The Indian Express reveal that Krishnamurthy plagiarised most of one book mentioned in the CV.

Written by Arun Janardhanan | Chennai | Published: November 22, 2014 4:34:01 am
Five of its eight chapters has papers by others. Five of its eight chapters has papers by others.

She is the Vice Chancellor of Pondicherry Central University, an ex-Vice Chancellor at SNDT Mumbai, former Acting Vice-Chancellor at University of Mumbai, and her CV has passed through the Central government and the office of the President of India, who is the Chancellor of all central universities, before her last appointment.

But documents accessed by The Indian Express reveal that Chandra Krishnamurthy plagiarised most of one book mentioned in that CV, which also lists two other books that may have never been published at all.

And, a search of the UGC database and an online repository for law schools show no trace of 24 of Krishnamurthy’s 25 research papers and publications — on legal and constitutional studies — listed on her CV.

When contacted, Krishnamurthy first expressed surprise at the allegations, then said that she had acknowledged the portions in her work where she referred to other sources. However, this acknowledgment, in the last page of the book in question Legal Education in India which she authored, is a list of seven names of scholars without any explanation, and two Wikipedia links.

Krishnamurthy, who was appointed as Pondicherry Central University V-C in early 2013, did not comment on the ethics of using others’ work while claiming complete authorship. She added, before abruptly terminating the conversation, that she has published two books — Legal Education in India (2009 and 2011) and Human Rights for Vulnerable Groups — with Himalaya Publishing House even though the publishers have confirmed publication of only the first one.

She did not comment about the third book mentioned on her CV — Constitutional Law-New Challenges. The CV claimed the book was published by Snow White Publication but Angit Thakur, who represents the publishing house, said their database could not trace this book or any other publication by Krishnamurthy.

Now consider these:

* Five out of eight chapters of Legal Education in India were found to include papers written by eminent scholars including Padmashree N R Madhava Menon, an eminent legal educator and the founder of National Law School in Bangalore.

* Menon’s work titled “Training in Legal Education: Some Comparative Insights from Indian American Experience” has been virtually copied in full and published as a fourth chapter in Krishnamurthy’s book with a minor change in the title: “Some Comparative Insights From Indian and American Experience.” Other than a minor change – the word “means” in the original paper has been changed to “moans” in a portion — the article has not been changed.

When contacted, Menon said he will question this “theft” and take appropriate action. “I am just waiting to see a copy of her book,” he said. “She never asked me for this reproduction and anyway, nobody can reproduce one’s work in another’s name.”

Then again, the preface of  “Legal Education in India” has been copied from a paper titled “Legal Education To Meet Challenges of Globalisation” authored by Pradip Kumar Das, a lecturer of Bengal Law College in Birbhum.

While Krishnamurthy has used the first paragraph of the paper for the preface, the rest of Das’ work is published as the second chapter of her book without even changing the title.

That’s not all.

* The book’s first chapter, titled “Legal Education and Advocates Act, 1961”, is almost a verbatim copy of the 184th report of Law Commission of India published in 2002, titled “The Legal Education & Professional Training and Proposals for Amendments to the Advocates Act, 1961 and the University Grants Commission Act, 1956.”

* A paper “Lawyers and Legal Education in India”, authored by Dr Ram Babu Dubey a professor of law (at the time of publication) at the Government P G College, Narasinghpur, Madhya Pradesh, has been reproduced in the fifth chapter of Krishnamurthy’s book under the title “Legal Education in India and Role of Lawyers (BAR)”.

* The first three pages of the sixth chapter has been copied from “History of Legal Education” authored by Sushma Gupta and published by Deep and Deep Publications Private Limited, New Delhi in 2006.

And, these are just the major instances of plagiarism that have been noted.

When contacted, K N Pandey, one of the directors of Himalaya Publishing House, said that contrary to what Krishnamurthy claimed in her CV, they have never published the book titled “Human Rights for Vulnerable Groups.”

“Only one book has been published by her and we will definitely take legal action against the author if instances of plagiarism has been found. Unfortunately, the book is already in the syllabus of several law institutions including the department of law at the Bombay University for LLB courses. It is intellectual theft and she can’t reproduce somebody’s work when the copyright belongs to us, the publisher,” Pandey said.

Interestingly, Krishnamurthy has marked all her personal files, including her CV, as “Protected Personal Information” by the Public Information Officer which would prevent them from being accessed by RTI queries.

Rajiv Yaduvanshi, an IAS officer who was the former registrar of Pondicherry Central University, had initiated several inquiries against Krishnamurthy before being repatriated by her last month. It was his efforts through the HRD Ministry that finally led to the declassification of her personal details. “I had reported to the HRD Ministry about how she has abused her power by marking her personal details as “Protected Personal Information” to deny RTI queries,” he said.

When contacted, M Anandakrishnan, chairman of the IIT-Kanpur board, and member of the panel that shortlisted Chandra in 2012, said the charges were serious and that she should be removed immediately from the post. “I will not tolerate the leader of an academic institution being involved in deliberate academic misdemeanour,” he said.

Asked about the selection of Chandra by the panel, he said when they “select so many V-Cs within limitations, there are possibilities of some accidents too”.

After going through the instances of plagiarism by Krishnamurthy, K L Chopra, a former director of IIT-Kharagpur who has headed several probe panels in central institutions and universities on plagiarism, said what the Vice-Chancellor had done was a punishable crime. “It is nothing less than the crime of stealing money. Plagiarism is the extreme form of dishonesty and a crime no teacher or scholar can do. She should be removed from the V-C’s post immediately and the HRD Ministry should order a probe into her academic credentials and claims of publications,” he said.

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