The Puducherry Technological University is mired in a controversy after the Union Territory’s Lieutenant Governor, Tamilisai Soundararajan, cancelled the suspension order of the university’s Registrar issue by the Vice-Chancellor. The cancellation happened within two hours of the order being passed.
The Opposition Congress has raised the red flag saying that the Lt. Governor had cancelled the order of the Vice-Chancellor suspending the Registrar of the university on grave charges of corruption and misappropriation of funds.
The senior Congress leader and former Chief Minister of Puducherry, V. Narayanasamy, in a press conference on Saturday said there was something serious behind the Lt. Governor interfering in an action of the Vice-Chancellor.
He called for an “impartial inquiry” into the motive behind the cancellation of the suspension order and said “the government should come clean on the issue”.
Naryanasamy told IANS: “The Lt. Governor revoking and order of the Vice-Chancellor suspending the Registrar within two hours is something that is not in proper perspective. The V-C had ordered the suspension of the Registrar on corruption charges and the Lt. Governor is not mentioning anything regarding the corruption charge but instead is speaking on the V-C not having met the procedures involved in taking disciplinary action. The Lt. Governor and the Puducherry government must come out with facts in the issue.”
It may be noted that in neighbouring Kerala, the Governor, Arif Mohammed Khan, called for the resignation of 11 Vice-Chancellors in the state after the Supreme Court ordered the APJ Abdul Kalam Technical University Vice-Chancellor, Rajasree, to be removed from the post as she had been installed without the necessary proceedings were fulfilled.
This action is being protested vociferously by the ruling Left Front and the CPI-M, but in Puducherry, the present BJP government and the Lt. Governor are in the same boat.
G. Sivaradje, Registrar and Professor, Department of Electronics and Communication Engineering , Puducherry Technological University was suspended with immediate effect on October 21.
The charges, according to an order from the Vice-Chancellor of Puducherry Technological University, S. Mohan is that the Registrar has been suspended with immediate effect following allegations of abuse of official position and financial misappropriation of funds.
The Vice Chancellor’s office said that there were several allegations against G. Sivaradje that he had misused his official position and indulged in corruption and financial misappropriation of funds in the university as well as in Puducherry Engineering College.
The Vice-Chancellor, Mohan, said in the order: “Preliminary enquiry revealed that the allegations against Sivaradje are prima facia found to be true. Further there have been several allegations levelled against him which are available in public forums and newspapers. Considering the grave nature of the allegations, the Vice-Chancellor ordered his suspension.”
The Registrar was also prohibited from entering the university and asked to be available for enquiry as and when directed by the competent authority and he was also directed not to leave Puducherry without prior permission.
However within two hours of the order from the Vice-Chancellor, the Lieutenant Governor Soundararajan in her capacity as the Chancellor of the university revoked the order.
The Lt. Governor in a one line communication said that that officers’ suspension has been cancelled with immediate effect. Sources in the Raj Bhavan told IANS that the Lt .Governor had acted with immediate effect revoking the suspension as the Vice-Chancellor had not followed the due process in suspending an officer rank employee.
It is to be noted that as per section 15 and sub-section 14 of the University Act , “the Vice Chancellor has the power to suspend, discharge, dismiss or otherwise take any disciplinary action against the staff of the university after providing them reasonable opportunity to defend themselves.”
The Chancellor of the University, the Lt Governor, has the right to suspend or remove any officers of the university.
However, the Act clearly states that even the Chancellor has to issue a showcause notice before initiating disciplinary action against an officer, which according to the Raj Bhavan sources was not implemented by the Vice-Chancellor before removing the Registrar from the post. The sources also said that the Lt. Governor had revoked the suspension as she has the right under the University Act to do so.
Educationists and independent researchers however are of the opinion that even though the V-C did not follow the Act properly in not issuing a showcause notice to the Registrar, the issue mainly is the Lt. Governor taking charge of the university as its full authority and the action of Soundararajan is being viewed by many as a move to stamp her authority as Chancellor in the day-to-day activities of the university.
K. Mukundarajan, former Principal in Sociology and Director of Socio-Economic Development Foundation, an education think-tank based out of Madurai and Mahe said, “It is clear that the Lt. Governor is trying to establish herself as the supreme authority as far as the matters of the university is concerned and she has implemented her power by revoking the suspension of the Registrar minutes within he was suspended by the V-C. This is a clear message from the Lt. Governors’ office that it will not lie low and that it would be a proactive Governor.”
The red flags being raised by the Lieutenant Governor (and the Kerala Governor) have the possibility of affecting the academics in the institutes of higher learning and the rating of these higher institutes of learning coming down.