Srinagar: The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has pinpointed irregularities in recruitment process, promotions besides the extension of allowances in Sher-i-Kashmir University of Agricultural Science and Technology (SKUAST) Kashmir and Jammu.
The CAG in its report tabled in the Parliament has revealed that the two Agricultural Universities did not adopt the mandatory Academic Performance Indicators for appointment of teachers as per the guidelines noting that the appointments were made without mandatory NET qualification. The CAG has stated that the appointments were made by counting inadmissible periods in teaching experience and appointments through lateral entry by irregular up-gradation of technical posts.
The CAG has observed that the Government of India had stipulated that recruitment Rules should be reviewed once in five years with a view to effecting such change in rules as is necessary including need for additions to or reduction in the strength of employees.
"Audit noticed that the Agriculture Universities had neither reviewed recruitment rules since their creation, nor put in place any mechanism for periodic assessment of vacancies, review of sanctioned strength and fixing of time frame within which vacant posts were to be filled which paved way for appointments in excess of sanctioned strength, ad-hocism in governance and misutilisation of vacant posts," the CAG reads. The Auditor has also noticed ambiguities and inconsistencies in Recruitment Rules stating that the Agriculture Universities had not implemented the reservation policy for direct appointment of teachers from reserved categories in accordance with UGC guidelines of August 2006.
"Assistant Registrar (GAD), SKUAST-K stated (February 2022) that adoption of reservation policy for direct recruitment of teachers as per UGC regulations was under process in both the Universities. The fact remains that pending implementation of reservation policy for direct recruitment of teachers from reserved categories, the universities could not initiate recruitment process for appointment of teachers," the CAG report has revealed.
The report has also stated that the Universities had also not carried out restructuring of non-teaching cadres which resulted in avoidable litigations and continuation of redundant posts.
"Out of 206 vacant non-teaching posts in SKUAST-J as of March 2021, 96 posts under 23 categories were continuously lying vacant for over five years. Similarly, in SKUAST-K, out of 561 vacant non-teaching posts as of March 2021, 357 posts under 52 categories were continuously lying vacant for over five years," the CAG observed.
It has been revealed that these posts were neither advertised nor treated as deemed abolished in the light of instructions issued by the Ministry of Finance Department of Expenditure, GoI and endorsed by the Finance Department, Government of J&K, requiring that posts remaining vacant for over two years are to be treated as deemed abolished.
"Audit further assessed that the posts of Assistant Director, Statistics, Assistant Project Planning and Monitoring Officer in SKUAST-J, had not been advertised since their creation (June 2000). These posts were manned by officers drawn from Planning and Development Department till February 2006 and May 2007 respectively and were continuously lying vacant thereafter," it reads. Similarly, the post of Assistant Director, Resident Instructions in SKUAST-J had continuously been lying vacant since its creation (June 2000), except for a brief spell of twelve days in January 2012. "These posts had not been reviewed for their continuation or otherwise and two of these were being utilised for drawing salaries of employees attached from other divisions/ faculties of the University," it reads.
The CAG has observed that, as of March 2021, 116 and 133 teaching posts were lying vacant in respect of SKUAST-J and SKUAST-K respectively. "Non-rationalisation of sanctioned strength is further corroborated by the fact that SKUAST-J did not consider reallocation of 27 vacant teaching posts out of 39 posts declared surplus (November 2011) in the Faculty of Veterinary Science, for creation of four new faculties7 approved in August 2005. This was despite instructions from the Finance/ Planning and Development Department (January 2019 and March 2021) to undertake a manpower audit for identification of surplus posts and rational utilisation of available resources," it reads.
The Auditor has further noticed that due to non-utilisation of identified surplus posts, the University could not institutionalize these faculties pending concurrence for creation of posts which was received in November 2021.
"The SKUAST-Jammu had neither revisited sanctioned or effective strength of posts with the result some posts were continuously lying vacant since periods ranging between 8 and 16 years."
The Auditor has revealed that the availability of vacant posts facilitated re-designation of posts to accommodate irregular appointments, attachments and adjustment of staff appointed in excess of sanctioned strength for the purpose of drawl of salaries.
"Test check of service records of 180 out of 593 posts in SKUAST-J showed that 20 sanctioned posts of senior/ junior scientists, senior technical assistants, assistant registrars, stenographers were re-designated (between April 1993 and 2017) to deputy/ assistant registrar, assistant professor, works supervisor, junior physiotherapist without approval of Finance Department," the CAG revealed.
"Additionally, appointments to five non-teaching positions had been made against non-existent posts. These incumbents were subsequently accommodated either by re-designating or converting other vacant posts, carrying different or similar pay scales with different criteria for appointments," the CAG revealed.
The CAG has observed that the shortfall in SKUAST-J ranged between 26 and 33 per cent under the teaching category and 19 and 26 per cent under the non-teaching category during the period during 2016-21. Similarly, shortage of manpower in SKUAST-K ranged between 22 and 33 per cent under teaching category and 29 and 32 per cent under non-teaching category during the period.
"Whereas SKUAST-J made only 07 appointments in respect of teaching cadre and 59 for non-teaching cadre, SKUAST-K made 173 and 193 appointments in teaching and non-teaching cadres respectively during the period 2016-21," the CAG report reads. The Auditor has observed that the Human Resource (HR) function of the universities was far from satisfactory and was plagued by irregular appointments, favouritism and inadmissible financial up-gradations.
"Relaxing the minimum standards for appointments and promotions of teachers compromised the quality of teaching and research in the universities. Lateral entry to teaching positions from lower technical positions deprived the university of availing the benefits of recruiting meritorious teachers through open advertisements," the CAG has observed adding that the extension of undue benefits due to excess drawl of pay, allowances and entitlements led to financial strain on the state coffers.
The Auditor has recommended that there was an urgent need to review sanctioned strength to weed out redundant posts and initiate a process for filling up of management positions through direct recruitment.
"The universities should adopt UGC regulations in toto and avoid lateral entry of technical cadres to teaching positions to maintain the minimum standards prescribed for appointment of teachers," it has said.
The CAG has further recommended that Career advancements of technical cadre borne on ICAR strength should strictly be implemented as per ICAR norms noting that there is an urgent need for revisiting Career Advancement Scheme of teaching positions in consonance with UGC regulations.
"The universities may immediately consider the introduction of SAC Part-I and II for ensuring efficiency and quality in the accounts wing," it said.