The appointment of Dr Jayakara SM as the acting Vice-Chancellor of the government-run Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences (RGUHS) has led to criticisms in political and academic circles.

Dr Jayakara in a coversation with Dr Ashwath NarayanaFile image/screengrab
news Controversy Sunday, June 13, 2021 - 20:52

The recent appointment of Dr Jayakara SM, Principal of AECS Maruthi College of Dental Sciences, as the acting Vice-Chancellor of the government-run Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences (RGUHS) has stirred up a hornet’s nest in Karnataka. A notification (dated June 11) by Governor Vajubhai Vala’s Secretariat names Dr Jayakara as the new candidate since the term of the present V-C is set to expire on June14. A staff member of the university also confirmed that Dr Jayakara is set to assume office on June 15. However, the appointment has courted controversy due to the corruption allegations against Dr Jayakara. As an executive member of the Dental Council of India (DCI), Dr Jayakara was accused of granting permission to dental colleges to teach postgraduate courses in lieu of bribes. In January 2013, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had conducted searches in his office in Bengaluru, wherein he and other members of the DCI executive committee were accused of bribery. 

Criticism of this appointment has come within political and academic circles, and in the government as well. Minister of Health and Medical Education Dr Sudhakar told TNM, “I, as the pro-Vice-Chancellor of the institution, will speak to the Governor and express my reservations about this appointment. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, the Governor has not given me a physical appointment. I will try to reach him on the phone.” The minister  also questioned why a dean of a private institution has been made the V-C (acting). He suggested that individuals with allegations of corruption should not hold administrative posts in educational institutions before getting a clean chit. Dr Sudhakar is the pro-V-C by virtue of his position of Medical Education Minister.

As mentioned in the notification, Dr Jayakara has been appointed under Section 12(5) of the RGUHS Act: “When any temporary vacancy occurs in the office of the Vice-Chancellor by reason of leave, illness or other cause, the Chancellor shall make such arrangements for carrying on the duties of the Vice-Chancellor as he may deem fit: Provided that pending the making of such arrangement by the Chancellor, the Vice-Chancellor may designate among the Deans of the University to be in charge of current duties of the Vice-Chancellor for a 15 period not exceeding one month or till arrangements are made by the Chancellor, whichever is earlier.” However, this section does not mention the need for consultation with the state government or the mandatory need for a government role as the eligibility criteria of being the acting V-C.

So, while Dr Jayakara is an eligible candidate under this section, many have questioned if his appointment took place at the insistence of Deputy Chief Minister Dr CN Ashwath Narayan. Incidentally, Dr Jayakar is a close ally and closely associated with the Dr CN Ashwath Narayan Foundation, a non-profit organisation run by the politician. However, the DCM’s office has denied any involvement in this matter. According to political circles,  this appointment has once again brought the friction between Dr Sudhakar and Dr CN Ashwath Narayan to the fore. 

An university administrator in the state said, "It is surprising that Dr Jayakar was chosen just for his political connections. In terms of seniority, Dr Jayanti, Dean of Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute (BMRCI), is the most eligible candidate as she is the most prominent candidate."

RGUHS is one of the premier health education institutes in the state with 727 affiliated colleges (government and private) offering graduate courses and 500 colleges offering postgraduate courses. 

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