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CBI to investigate IGNOU role in architect case

Investigative agency to look into open university's dealings with director of Council of Architecture, against whom it recently filed chargesheet

A Chargesheet filed against the director of the Council of Architecture has revealed that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will also investigate the involvement of Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and its dealings with the top architect. MiD DAY has a copy of the chargesheet filed against Vijay Shrikrishna Sohoni (58).

The chargesheet was filed on August 30, in the Patiala House Court against Sohoni, his wife Nandita Sohoni (53) and four others. They are Avinash Vasant Dekhane, Radaish Muku, Parineeta Katgaonkar and Milind Govind Asrekar.

The FIR was filed by an unknown person on August 3, 2010, with the CBI. The CBI is investigating IGNOU's role after Sohoni's Panaji-based, Vidyavardhan's Institute of Design Environment and Architecture (VIDEA) applied for an affiliation with the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) on August 15, 2008, for its five- year Bachelor of Architecture Course. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was also signed between the two on August 13 the same year, but it was not authenticated after a central government official reportedly cautioned the IGNOU about Sohoni.

The purpose of signing the MoU and application of affiliation with IGNOU was to gain legitimacy for VIDEA. This was imperative for Sohoni to continue as director of CoA.

This is because the Architect's Act clearly requires the director to be the head of a particular institute, which is affiliated to any university recognised by the University Grants Commission (UGC).

IGNOU's came into the picture after the Marathwada Mitra Mandal College of Architecture (MMCoA) challenged his directorship of CoA in the Bombay High Court. This was after he had vacated the principal's post at the Nashik District Maratha Vidya Prasarak Mandal (NDMVP).

NDMVP had earlier issued a public notice against Sohoni questioning his continued absence from college activities, when he declared he was heading VIDEA. "Further investigation is continuing in the case mainly in respect of involvement of any of officials of IGNOU in the conspiracy and a report U/s 173 (8) of Code of Criminal Procedure would be filed later on if required," the chargesheet says.

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