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Third NDA-appointed central university V-C under HRD scanner, for quid pro quo

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Govt is awaiting approval from the President to probe Dr Arvind Kumar Agrawal, V-C of the Mahatma Gandhi Central University in Motihari, Bihar.

New Delhi: The human resource development (HRD) ministry is set to launch a formal investigation against the vice-chancellor of Mahatma Gandhi Central University (MGCU) in Motihari, Bihar, Dr Arvind Kumar Agrawal, for suspected wrongdoing in appointing a teacher.

Agrawal is the third V-C appointed by the NDA government who has come under the scanner in a very short period of time.

The case came to the ministry’s notice a few weeks ago, and permission has been sought from the President to investigate the charges against Agrawal.

“After approval from the President’s office, a fact-finding committee will be formed to investigate the case,” a senior HRD official said on the condition of anonymity.

The case at hand

The university was created in December 2014, but the government could appoint a V-C only in February 2016.

Agrawal was selected for the post after a one-man search-cum-selection panel under Central University of South Bihar vice-chancellor Prof. Harish Chandra Rathore, recommended his name.

Agrawal then allegedly appointed Saurabh Singh Rathore, son of Harish Chandra, as assistant professor in the department of biotechnology at the MGCU. The ministry suspects it is a case of quid pro quo.

Agrawal denies any wrongdoing in the recruitment of Rathore.

“The assistant professor you are talking about got third rank in the written examination, and was a deserving candidate. His educational credentials merit his appointment,” he told ThePrint over the phone.

“Besides, I was not the only person who selected his name. There were others too. I am not aware of any probe, and can’t say anything more than that.”

Growing epidemic

The President of India has already dismissed Jawahar Lal Kaul, vice-chancellor of Garhwal University, on the recommendation of the HRD ministry, while the recommendation for the dismissal of R.L. Hangloo, V-C of Allahabad University, is awaiting the President’s approval. In the case of the latter, the file is in the President’s office, and sources told ThePrint action could be taken in the next few weeks.

Both Kaul and Hangloo had been accused of administrative and financial irregularities by the fact-finding committee formed by HRD minister Prakash Javadekar, and were asked to respond to show-cause notices sent by the ministry.

Kaul was appointed in November 2014, while Hangloo was appointed in December 2015.

Javadekar’s predecessor Smriti Irani had in 2016 dismissed the vice-chancellors of Pondicherry University and Visva Bharati, both appointed by the UPA  government.

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