Appointment of new JNU VC surprises old timers in Pune University

Pune University sources are surprised at her elevation despite two inquiry reports indicting her in the past for her role in admission of Indian citizens under quota for 'Persons of Indian Origin'

Appointment of new JNU VC surprises old timers in Pune University

Nadeem Inamdar

The first woman to be appointed Vice Chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Dr Shantishree Dhulipadi Pandit, finds herself embroiled in controversies from the day her appointment became public. People dug into her Twitter account and made several offensive tweets about students, anti-CAA protestors, Christians and farmers by the account public.

She has tried to wriggle out by claiming first that she was not on Twitter and thereafter that her account was hacked by ‘insiders’ in JNU, the controversy refuses to die down. If she was not on Twitter, why would anyone want to hack it, the critics asked. They also pointed out that the unverified Twitter account, now deleted, had been posting even personal photographs with her mother in her younger days to which only she could have had access. Dr Pandit, however, insists that she is being unfairly targeted for being a woman and that a section within the JNU wanted to stall her appointment because she hailed ‘from a marginalized section of Tamil Nadu’.

She may however find it more difficult to deny an earlier inquiry report that people in Pune are talking about. Sources in Pune University claim that she was held guilty of showing undue favour to Non-Resident Indians (NRI) and Persons of Indian Origin. An inquiry report dated July 17, 2009, submitted by a committee headed by a former judge indicted Dr Pandit, who was the Director of the International Students Centre in the Pune University. She was held guilty of allowing admission of undeserving students between 2002 and 2007 when she was holding the additional charge as Director, ISC.

Dr Atul Govind Bagul, who was an executive council member of Pune University Teachers Association (PUTA), had complained about irregularities in admitting students under the 15% supernumerary quota for PIOs. One of the sensational allegations was that in those five years, 1,800 students were given admission under the PIO quota although they were all Indian citizens.

A four-member committee led by Sunanda Pawar was constituted to probe into the alleged irregularities. The committee submitted its report on August 6, 2008 and stated, “We are of the unanimous opinion that there is prima-facie evidence on record which shows irregularities in the admission of foreign students. We are of the opinion that on the basis of the statement and records there is a possibility of financial misappropriation committed by the then director with the consent of other authorities.”

The inquiry report recorded that Dr. Pandit had sought permission to destroy records of all preceding years on the ground of insufficient space to store them. The resolution was however never placed before the management council. Her critics at Pune University allege that despite being indicted by two separate committees, her case was treated with kid gloves by the then Vice Chancellor. No action was taken against her and it is still not clear if she was eventually acquitted of the charges.

Complainant Dr Atul Govind Bagul told National Herald, “She was guilty of violating AICTE norms and it was not a mistake. It was a deliberate act. She allotted letters of admission to more than 1500 students and they were non-meritorious students. This was a violation of AICTE and UGC regulations. It is shocking that a person with such dubious record is being rewarded with the vice chancellorship of JNU.”

(This article was first published in National Herald on Sunday)

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