SKUAST vice-chancellor ‘evades’ appearance before inquiry panel
Palampur Varsity Wants Dr Tej Pratap As Witness In Purchase Scam
Srinagar, Apr 17: Amid discourse on illegal admissions, the vice-chancellor of the SK University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology Kashmir, Dr Tej Pratap, is allegedly evading appearance before an inquiry panel probing a purchase scam at the Chaudhary Sarvan Kumar Himachal Pradesh Agriculture University Palampur, Greater Kashmir has learnt. Dr Pratap was the vice-chancellor of the CSK varsity before assuming the charge of SKUAST-Kashmir.
Highly placed sources disclosed to Greater Kashmir that the CSK probe panel has shot off several missives to Dr Tej Pratap, asking him to appear before it so that the inquiry is completed.
The scam, they said, dates back to the tenure (2007-2010) when Dr Pratap headed the CSK University. “The university had placed orders for purchase of gas heaters for its office rooms. The orders were placed before a firm which had submitted the second lowest quotation. This forced the firm, which had submitted first lowest quotation, to file a case. This led to the Vigilance Organization inquiry into the issue at Palampur. The Vigilance inquiry indicted two officials of the varsity for committing the fraud,” the sources, privy to the inquiry process, revealed.
At the moment the varsity is proceeding with the departmental inquiry against the charged officials, one of them having retired from the active service, while the other one still in service.
“The Vigilance indicted the two officials for dereliction of duties in the procurement of the substandard material,” the sources said.
Both the officials, they said, have desired to have Dr Tej Pratap, who headed the CSK varsity then, as a “witness to the purchase of the material and the processing of the documents thereof.” “Certain issues are required to be clarified by Dr Tej Pratap in the ongoing inquiry against the two officials,” the sources said.
It has been reliably learnt that Dr Pratap has failed to appear before the inquiry panel thrice so far. Now he has been given another chance to appear before the panel on April 18 (Monday).
Dr Pratap, the sources said, is allegedly avoiding the inquiry panel citing “everything, including documents pertaining to the purchase of gas heaters, was available with the university”—something which the inquiry panel is not satisfied with.
When contacted, Dr Taj Pratap told Greater Kashmir: “It is a case of heater purchases and I had suspended some officials who are retired guys now. They are saying that I can give witness to them that they are innocent. I have suspended them, so how can they be innocent. Well they are retired now and that inquiry was initiated by me. It is related to that.”
When asked why he doesn’t appear before the panel, he said: “That is beyond the question. That inquiry was initiated by me, so how can I appear before the inquiry. That is no special inquiry. That is for the present vice-chancellor to decide whether the accused officials are clean or not. It is not within the inquiry authority’s limit that you can ask the vice-chancellor to appear before it. Let them ask the present Vice-Chancellor for records about the case.”
However, while Dr Pratap’s comments have raised a question on how he knows that the two charged officials wanted him to bail them out, sources said the inquiry panel was within its limits to call Dr Pratap because he was the vice-chancellor when the scam took place. “How do you know that the officials want you to bail them out? It could be the other way round: that why the Vice-Chancellor approved second lowest quoting?” the sources said. “So being a responsible officer, he must face the panel if he is so sure that he is not involved in any wrongdoing. That would make it easy for the inquiry panel to bring out the entire truth about the issue.”
Pertinently, Dr Pratap’s appointment as the SKUAST VC had last year ruffled many a feathers. While it was alleged that he had been picked up from the bottom of the panel submitted by the search committee, reports said the appointment was made at the cost of local talent.
According to legal experts, it is incumbent upon any official, irrespective of his status, to appear before an inquiry panel, as and when desired. “This happens to be in the interest of the official himself. The summoning for appearance before an inquiry is a chance given to an official to present his point of view, which is to be recorded in the proceedings of the probe. Once the official avoids the appearance, he allows others to raise a question against him. It is better for the official to cooperate with the inquiry panel. Otherwise it is well within its rights to pass adverse remarks against the official, which in a way points to his involvement,” said a senior officer in the State Law Department, when asked about the ‘legal opinion’ on such issues. “I don’t think any official, who is a clean man, will avoid facing any inquiry. Even if an official from J&K does something wrong during his work outside the state, we have all right to summon him for a clarification. If he denies the same, we can complete the inquiry saying he or she refused to be a part of the probe.”
Lastupdate on : Sun, 17 Apr 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 17 Apr 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 18 Apr 2011 00:00:00 IST
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