Even as the suspension of Bharathiar University’s Vice Chancellor is rocking academia across Tamil Nadu, it has thrown into light the various scandals and scams that have plagued Tamil Nadu’s universities over the years.
In a public interest litigation filed by Change India, a centre for research and advocacy, over 20 scams have been listed. The PIL, filed in May 2017 lists all allegations against universities and points to the fact that many of these scams prominently feature the respective university’s Vice Chancellor.
The PIL also alleges that the Vice Chancellors of 10 Tamil Nadu universities along with the Registrar of Anna University met with then AIADMK General Secretary Sasikala upon Jayalalithaa’s death in order to curry favour in a new political landscape. Here are a few important controversies to remember.
One of the premier institutions for technical education in the country, this university has faced several allegations over the years. In 2012, DVAC officials conducted raids at firms owned by former Tamil Nadu Governor Surjit Singh Barnala’s son. It was alleged that tenders were rigged to procure equipments for various universities in the department from companies owned by the governor’s son and his friend. It is alleged that 13 affiliate colleges were involved in the scam. The residence of former Anna University Vice Chancellor D Viswanathan was searched in the matter.
Former Anna University, Coimbatore Vice Chancellor R Radhakrishnan was sentenced to five years’ rigorous imprisonment in November 2016 for receiving bribes from a furniture vendor to supply dual desks to the university. Another case of accruing wealth disproportionate to his income is still underway with his wife named a co-accused.
University of Madras
The home to several arts and science colleges in the state, the University of Madras was involved in a large scale examinations-related scandal in 2011. It was alleged that a large number of staff members had rigged students’ marks in the BE/BTech and distance education examinations. Those who had got four marks were given up to forty marks and those who had receive six marks were given up to 60 marks.
Tamil Nadu Agricultural University
The former Vice Chancellor of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University in Coimbatore was mired in controversy following reports that he had lied about approvals from the University’s board of trustees regarding purchase of equipments. Incidentally TNAU’s VC at the time also allegedly bought surveillance equipment at higher prices from firms connected to former Governor Barnala’s son. It is reported that the VC ordered sugarcane harvesters from the firm which later turned out to be faulty. He did not inform the Board and went ahead with the purchase of four more such harvesters at the same price. The DVAC claims that the same machines were in use by private companies and costed less than half the price at Rs 71 lakhs.
Six years before the A Ganapathy scandal broke, in 2012, the then Vice Chancellor C Swaminathan of Bharathiar University was also embroiled in a similar scandal where it was alleged that he made several unqualified appointments based on nepotism, in violation of UGC norms. In the same year, over 20 postgraduate and doctoral students of the university filed a petition with the District Collector alleging irregularities in the appointments for the posts of 80 professors and assistant professors by the university.
Dr MGR Medical College
In February last year, a criminal case was filed against the former Vice Chancellor of Dr MGR Medical University regarding criminal corruption during official travel. It was alleged that the VC would re-book international flights from business class to economy class and keep the difference amount.
Dr Geetha Lakshmi was also accused of nepotism in appointing her husband and sister to the academic board in addition to purchasing an expensive car. Following the IT raids in TN Health Minister Vijaya Bhaskar’s house, it was alleged incriminating documents were found with the VC’s name in it. Following this, IT officials also raided Dr Geetha Lakshmi’s house ahead of the RK Nagar bye-polls in April 2017.