After Punjab, HPU teachers’ appointments under scanner

Close on the heels of the Punjab and Haryana High Court quashing the selection of 1,158 assistant professors in Punjab, the faculty recruitments in neighbouring HPU has now stirred up a row

In Punjab, the recruitment of 1,158 assistant professors in state colleges was carried out after 19 years in 2021. The posts were advertised on October 19, 2021. On December 3, the High Court had restrained the state government from going ahead with the recruitment following pleas challenging the recruitment criterion. The allegations were that the criterion was “wholly arbitrary and discriminatory” and granted weightage in lieu of work experience only to the guest faculty, part-timers and contract teachers working in colleges. It was also alleged that the question papers of Punjabi and mathematics were leaked well before the exams were conducted from November 20 to 22.

Taking note of the allegations, the High Court had ordered a stay on appointments on December 3. However, later pleas were filed alleging that stay orders on appointments were violated and selection letters were issued on the night when order was passed by HC and in some cases with a back date. The High Court on December 23 had directed the state government to seal records pertaining to recruitment and put it in the custody of the chief secretary.

RTI exposure

Now the Student federation of India (SFI), has made a startling revelation stating that a 13000 page RTI procured by vigilant students found the recruitment process fake and in contravention of the laid down norms. The students alleged that for the last two years, when the country was hit by the Corona epidemic, HPU indulged in a “fake” recruitment process for the faculty members.

The SFI sought records of about 145 selected teachers through RTI. The students alleged that the Public Information Officer of the University delayed the information. The students alleged that they were not provided information even after the first appeal was made under the Act. It was after a second appeal, before the State Information Commission, that the students were supplied with 13000 pages of information.

The students claimed that after spending around Rs 26,000 and taking assistance of aware students, staff and teachers of the university, SFI activists and lawyers, conducted a thorough research on some selection parameters of the UGC. Students also claimed that after scrutinizing the papers of 145 selected assistant professors, associate professors and professors that about 70 percent ineligible people have been recruited. They alleged that selected teachers were given marks to their published research papers who are not in the UGC peer group authorized to review the published paper.

Students giving reference to some paper published in the ”International Journal of Analytical and Experimental Model Analysis, Vol. Xll Issue 1 Jan 2020” said that against the total 10  marks given on a joint paper published in the same journal 12.6 marks have been given to only one candidate. Students termed it a new low in the higher learning of state adding that such teachers have been selected whose Ph.D. degree is not in conformity with the UGC regulations.

Rules flouted

Students also added that in addition to compulsory publication of two research papers there are four other layers of qualification so that competent faculty members get recruited. The Ph.D. degree of the candidate should be through regular mode and the Ph.D. thesis is to be evaluated by at least two external examiners and open Ph.D. viva-voce of the candidate should have been conducted.  The candidates should have presented at least two papers based on his or her Ph.D work in conferences or seminars sponsored or funded or supported by the UGC or ICSSR or ESIR or any similar agency. The fulfilment of these conditions is to be certified by the Registrar or the Dean (Academic Affairs) of the University concerned. Students pointed out that candidates who are not even NET qualified and do not have the  Ph.D, got selected for the posts of Associate Professors. The fact is that candidates who are not fulfilling the required five conditions were also selected.

Without naming the shortlisted candidates, SFI said that many were shortlisted in English, Hindi, Microbiology, Bio-Sciences, Chemistry, Public Administration, Law, Mathematics, Journalism and Mass Communication, Sociology, Political Science department under “fake process after procuring fake experiences”. Many teachers were given certificates of their experience which contradicts their own submission before the shortlisting authorities. Ten marks were given to assistant professors for having 8 and 10 years teaching experience.  However the teaching experience certificates overlap with their period of Ph.D (done on regular basis). The institutes from where these certificates have been procured, did not issue even salary slips or payslips or financial proof.

As per the information gathered under the Right to Information Act, no discussion was held with the Departmental Academic Committee whereas whenever a seat is created, the proposal is prepared in every way from the concerned department on the basis of the workload.

Some got selected under the Economically Weaker (EWS) and OBC certificates. Surprisingly, the selected teachers in this class gave in writing that till the application he was working as associate professor in other institutes regularly for the last 7-8 years at pay scale of 15600-39100 – 60006.  The SFI questioned whether it is a matter of investigation how they got the EWS certificates. Then many shortlisted candidates do not have any of the following assets – agricultural land of more than one hectare in rural areas and 500 square meters of land in urban areas, rural and urban residential flat or house of more than 2500 square feet in areas.

The appointment of teachers is done by the executive body but in this case, the item as proposed in the EC meeting, the result of the interview of the teachers was declared on the same day. Whereas a very important item and it should be reached to a conclusion only after proper discussion.

 Appointments in UIIT

Such teachers have been selected whose academic score in the tele sheet is only 30, 32 and 40 out of 100 and on the other hand talented and experienced candidates have allegedly been ignored. The functioning of University Institute of Technology (UIIT) is continuously promoting action against administrative and financial rules. For example, the creation of many types of teachers and non-teaching posts, directly after the decision in the academic committee of their department, the Board of Study, allegedly ignoring the academic circle and taking them directly to the Executive Council (EC).

In the recruitment process, 80 and 20 marks were divided in the final selection and in the final merit, 80 marks for academics, experience and publications etc. and 20 marks for interview. But this time, the SFI alleged, the selection was done on the basis of 100 percent interviews. In many cases, the academic experience and publication marks were not considered for the final selection.