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HomeIndiaGovernanceAfter week-long student protests, Raipur law university V-C resigns

After week-long student protests, Raipur law university V-C resigns

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VC Sukh Pal Singh had been accused of inaction in cases of sexual harassment, financial irregularities and maladministration.

New Delhi: The vice-chancellor of Hidayatullah National Law University (HNLU), Raipur, resigned Monday, after week-long protests, including a hunger strike during the day, by students demanding his ouster.

The students had accused Vice-Chancellor Dr Sukh Pal Singh of allegedly not acting on complaints of sexual harassment, indulging in financial irregularities, a lack of transparency and maladministration.

The university administration had denied the charges against the VC and had put out a 17-page rebuttal countering them.

Also read: Manipur University back on lockdown after teachers, students get swept up in midnight raid

“He (Singh) had ignored academic interests over his seven-year tenure. There is rampant corruption and he dismissed grave complaints of sexual harassment,” said Abha Dixit, the protest coordinator, HNLU. “That professor (accused of harassment) is still teaching students.”

The Student’s Bar Association (SBA) had collected 800 signatures from a body of 950 students to push for Singh’s resignation.

The issue had been simmering for a while. In August, the Chhattisgarh High Court had quashed the 2014 extension granted to Singh, who was first appointed to the post in 2011, on the grounds of irregularities in the procedure of appointment. Ravishankar Sharma, the principal secretary in the state Law Department, had then taken over as interim VC.

On 20 September, however, the Supreme Court issued an interim stay on the month-old high court order following which Singh resumed office as VC.

The allegation-response tussle

In its 17-page response, issued on 30 September, the university had specific counters to the charges made by the students.

On “rampant corruption”, the students claimed that an audit report, prepared after corruption charges were made against the V-C in 2016, had not been tabled in front of university’s decision-making authorities because it may contain “embarrassing” information.

The university, however, countered it by stating copies of the special audit inspection report along with comments of the vice-chancellor had been sent to a panel comprising of “Justice A.M. Sapre, judge, Supreme Court of India, Justice Deepak Gupta, judge, Supreme Court, and the V-C vide letters dated 12 April 2018”.

Using a case from August as an example, the students had accused Singh of adopting a “casual attitude towards complaints of sexual harassment”.

The university, however, notes that while students made a complaint in person, no written follow-up was submitted.

The case has now been referred to the “newly-constituted internal complaints committee”, the university said. You can read the full response here.

The students, however, claim that the document was proof that Singh was “lying on record”.

“They have passed the buck. There are at least three issues where it was interim VC R.S. Sharma who ordered the changes, except that Singh is claiming them as his decisions”, said Achyut Tiwari, public relations head, SBA.

Also readManipur University students living in chaos & uncertainty as anti-VC protests enter Day 58

The three instances include uploading university documents regarding minutes of the authority meeting, moot paper and research paper funding, and constituting an internal complaint committee.

“The reply doesn’t even address the money allocated for the production of the college song. What happened to those Rs 2 lakh,” asked Tiwari.

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  1. Shri Prakash Javdekar is a vast improvement over his predecessor. So one was surprised when he spent almost five months camping in Karnataka before the Assembly election. HRD is extraordinary important for India. It has been largely on auto pilot. As, in a sense, has healthcare. Most Asian countries got these two sectors right before entering their high growth phase.

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