Threat of strike in exam dept held up reval scam report
Fact-finding panel chairperson admits fear of agitation affecting exams caused delay in submission of report
After MiD DAY reported that pressure from the examination department of the University of Pune (UoP) had led the university-appointed fact-finding committee to delay its report on the involvement of department staff in a major re-evaluation racket, the chairperson of the committee has admitted that the committee preferred to delay the submission of the report as in October there was tremendous pressure on the UoP administration from the exam department employees.
ACP (Retd) Sharad Avasthi, the committee chairperson, said the submission was delayed as exams would have been affected in case of a strike. “After the formation of the fact-finding committee (in the first week of October) the UoP examination department employees called a strike and warned the Vice-Chancellor they would boycott work,” he said. “That was an exam period and that’s why we preferred to wait in the interest of students as there was a possibility of the exam department work coming to a standstill.”
Avasthi said he feared there were more malpractices than yet discovered. “This case is just the tip of the iceberg. Though we have taken two months to submit a report, we have clearly mentioned that nothing can be done unless the police case is registered,” he said.
After the submission of report to Vice-Chancellor Dr W N Gade on December 13, the UoP suspended three clerks, Ramesh Shelar, Ashok Ranawade and Chetan Parbhane, on Friday night and the Chatushrungi police booked the trio on Monday evening.
All three clerks are untraceable since Friday. Three major cases of malpractices in examination department were seen in 2012, with the formation of a committee and delay in the whole investigation process becoming routine practice in the university after every such incident.
Gade said now onwards people would be able to observe a “qualitative difference” in the way the university handled such cases. Gade, who took over as V-C in May, claimed that he was especially serious about issues related to the examination department.
“From the first day I was taking regular feedback from the committee chairperson,” he said. “Rather, the UoP has taken a proactive stand and we formed a committee even before the police observed a connection between the Poona College dummy student racket and the varsity’s exam department.”
After receiving the report from the committee on Thursday last week, the university administration took a day to send a written complaint application to the police.
Asked whether that one day delay in sending a complaint application to the police had played a role in helping the indicted clerks escape, Gade said it was not the university that had made the report public before going to the police.
“It’s not us (university officials) but the committee chairperson (Avasthi) who briefed the media about the involvement of three clerks in the case,” he said. “After we discussed the matter with our legal adviser, we immediately sent a complaint application to the police.”
Avasthi said all credit for making an impartial inquiry possible went to Gade and Controller of Examination Dr Sampada Joshi.
“This case is just the tip of the iceberg and if taken ahead the university can expose other malpractices of the kind,” Avasthi said. “We observed that since the past many years such practices were going on in the UoP exam department.”
Police book three clerks
The Chatushringi police on Monday evening booked three junior clerks of the examination department for inflating marks of 22 students during the re-evaluation process. The police said the students had failed in certain papers and then applied for re-valuation. The booked clerks, Ramesh Kisan Shelar, Ashok Ranawade and Chetan Parbhane, are absconding since their suspension. The police complaint was made by UoP Controller of Examination Dr Sampada Joshi. Senior Police Inspector Ajay Kadam of the Chatushringi police station said the suspects were booked under Sections 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (using a forged document as genuine), 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant), 420 (cheating) and 34 (common intention) of the IPC. — Sandip Kolhatkar