Rajneesh Arora was vice-president of the Punjab unit of the RSS and is alleged to have committed serious fraud and administrative malpractices as PTU V-C.
Chandigarh: Rajneesh Arora, a former vice-chancellor of the Punjab Technical University (PTU) and a former senior RSS activist in the state, was arrested by the vigilance bureau (VB) Monday for serious allegations of financial malpractices and administrative irregularities.
According to the VB, Arora allegedly favoured a Delhi-based consultancy firm for various services, for which the university paid the firm almost Rs 25 crore during his tenure. Arora is also said to have illegally recruited employees, besides allowing his favoured learning centres to charge more fees than other PTU centres.
Arora was arrested from his house in Amritsar and is in four days’ custody for interrogation.
An alumnus of IIT-Delhi, Arora was chosen V-C of the Jalandhar-based PTU in 2008 by the SAD-BJP government. His appointment was believed to be backed by the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS). Until a month before he was appointed as V-C in December 2008, Arora was vice-president of the RSS in Punjab.
Arora’s father, Mathura Dass, was a staunch RSS activist and a leading educationist in Amritsar. Rajneesh Arora too became an RSS pracharak in Delhi in the late 1970s, and along with his wife, served in the tribal areas of what is now Jharkhand for 10 years.
A controversial tenure
Arora’s two term stint as PTU V-C till January 2015 was highly controversial, with allegations of brazen irregularities and financial misappropriations constantly coming to the fore.
As V-C, he started a special course in human values and professional ethics in 2014, allegedly with a view to propagate RSS ideology. In May 2017, PTU decided to discontinue these courses being run through its M.Tech. and Ph.D. programmes since these were not listed as regular courses by the UGC/AICTE.
Following the change in the state government last year, an inquiry against him was entrusted to former IAS officer S.S. Dhillon, who submitted a report to the government in July. Technical education minister Charanjit Singh Channi had asked the CM to take action on the probe report.
However, he remained on various committees constituted by the UGC/AICTE. He was a member of IIT-Delhi’s board of governors, as well as the governing council of the National Board of Accreditation.
Details of the irregularities
The case against Arora and others has been registered under sections 409 and 120-B of the IPC and 13(1)(d) read with 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act at the VB police station, Jalandhar.
Giving details of the FIR, a VB spokesperson said on Monday that Arora appointed six coordinators and facilitators arbitrarily and paid almost Rs 9.3 crore to them in two years.
“Dr Arora not only violated the rules but also ignored genuine firms who were fulfilling the requisite conditions of the advertisement made by the university. Arora appointed his classmate as advisor of a private consultancy firm M/s NETiit and paid a huge amount to this company,” said the spokesperson.
“PTU signed an agreement with NETiit in August 2012 under which 8 per cent of the admission fee was to be paid as consultancy fee to the firm. In September 2012, the Punjab chief secretary filed an affidavit in the Punjab and Haryana High Court saying that he had directed the university to withdraw appointment of the consultant. But his appointment was not withdrawn, and almost Rs 25 crore worth of consultancy fee was paid till December 2014.”
The spokesperson also alleged that Arora and M/s NETiit opened a camp office in Delhi and wasted Rs 1.65 crore arbitrarily. “He also allowed a Chandigarh-based learning centre to charge a higher fee than other PTU learning centres,” added the spokesperson.
The V-C also allegedly carried out a host of irregular appointments. “While making the recruitments, the rules laid down by the board of governors were also violated and appointees were given extension in their services from time to time,” the spokesperson said.