Something is rotten at Mumbai's Wilson College

Aug 08, 2014, 11:33 IST | Shreya Bhandary

Professors have alleged gross violation of rules at the institute including misappropriation of funds, not following norms while hiring teachers, and handover of college gymkhana to outsiders

The Historic Wilson College is once again shrouded in controversy, after some professors alleged mismanagement and gross violation of university rules. They have even written to the vice-chancellor of University of Mumbai, complaining against the college principal and the management about norms being flouted.

According to the professors, auditoriums inside the Makichan Hall, the hostel, have been given to an event management company. Meanwhile, the gymkhana is allegedly managed by outsiders and the ground is rented out for weddings and other functions. Pics/Sameer MarkandeAccording to the professors, auditoriums inside the Makichan Hall, the hostel, have been given to an event management company. Meanwhile, the gymkhana is allegedly managed by outsiders and the ground is rented out for weddings and other functions. Pics/Sameer Markande

“One of the biggest violations is that there’s huge misappropriation of funds; they use government funds from the aided section of the college to facilitate unaided courses.

Even the teachers hired for unaided courses have not been approved by the university,” said one of the professors. The aided courses include BSc, BCom, BA and their corresponding masters courses. Unaided ones include BMM, BMS, etc.

The letter also mentions the manner in which a Chemistry professor was appointed without any intimation sent to the university. “The university has already taken cognisance of the matter and a committee has been set up to investigate the process involved in hiring the professor,” added the professor.

Some of the professors have also continuously complained to the police about a ‘proxy principal’ who visits the college. The management, however, refuses to take action.

Outsiders in the college
Another serious accusation is that college property is slowly being handed over to outsiders for maintenance. The gymkhana, situated at Marine Drive, is allegedly in the hands of outsiders who have nothing to do with the college administration. “Students who visit the gymkhana are scared for their safety; the management is turning a blind eye to their problems.

The gymkhana ground is leased out for weddings and there is no account of the funds collected through these functions. Recently, a pamphlet was distributed around the campus stating that the hostel building, which is situated opposite the campus, would be open for weddings and other functions and some outsiders are managing it,” added the professor.

The Mackichan Hall, a hostel for nearly 70 male students, is built on government land and leased out to the college trust. However, at present, an event management company functions from the hostel premises.

When this reporter visited the site to inquire about the usage of college property for their personal office, one of the organisers, Shrirang Sawant, said, “The college has given us the authority to run the two halls situated within the hostel.

We rent it out for weddings as well as other functions.” One hall in this property, along with the lawn, is available for Rs 35,000, for six hours. There are three such air-conditioned halls inside the hostel.

Some students pointed out how, during these functions, hordes of people walked in and out of their hostel even at 10 pm. “We thought about complaining to the hostel authorities, but we doubt anything will change.

We will write to our college management,” said one student. One of the professors has also written to the collector’s office, highlighting the problem. But, no action has been taken as yet.

When mid-day contacted the collector and district magistrate of Mumbai, Shaila A, she said the gymkhana land is government property and can be leased out only with the permission of the collector’s office.

“Many gymkhanas rent their property for functions, but the rule clearly states they have to first seek our permissions and also submit a deposit for the same. We will check if this college gymkhana is following the rules,” she said.

Punished for protest?
The professors say they are facing flak from college authorities for raising their voices. One of them has also received an eviction notice asking him to leave the college. One of these professors has also submitted an affidavit to the university under the recently approved Whistleblowers Protection Act.

“The university has acknowledged my affidavit and also wrote to the college, but the authorities here have refused to acknowledge this letter,” he added. “Last Sunday, bouncers and dubious elements attempted to assault one of us. The miscreants chased him till Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan and, when he went to file a police complaint, the police refused to register even a non-cognisable offence,” added another professor.

The professors have also written to the Maharashtra Governor, and the state minister for higher and technical education, Rajesh Tope. They have also approached the state human rights commission. “I’m receiving threat calls from strangers for raising my voice against injustice, but I hope some action will be initiated soon,” added the professor.

The other side
When mid-day tired calling the college principal, V J Sirwaiya, he was unavailable for comment. Pradeep Abhyankar, the college registrar, said, “We have received complaints from professors against the principal and the complaints have been forwarded to the management. Only the management, principal and the complainant will know whatever decisions will be taken. An inquiry is being conducted.”

But, nobody knows who it is that is in the management. In a reply to an RTI inquiry by one of the professors asking for information about the management members of the college, the reply clearly stated that ‘this information is not covered under RTI’. “I have also written to the college trust, but haven’t received any reply,” said the professor. Even the college website has no mention of the management members.

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