Governor is Chancellor; but OUAT a Sanctuary for Fraudsters

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

It is not necessary to remind Mr. Muralidhar Chandrakant Bhandare of his responsibilities as the Governor of Orissa; but it certainly is necessary to remind him of his duties as the Chancellor of Universities of the State.

We have exposed in these pages how the BP University of Technology has drifted away into becoming a factory of post-dated degrees for the students wretchedly weak in studies but potentially strong in purse to purchase them. Now we find, the Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT), is not only a breeding center of false Certificates but has also become a sanctuary for fraudsters in faculty and administrative positions.

Academic environment of this university is in quagmire as its Vice Chancellor (VC) “reappointed” by the Governor-cum-Chancellor is negligent to the necessity of clearing himself of allegations of collaboration with forgery and machinations in faculty management.

There are several allegations on records. Let us look at a sample.

A senior member of the faculty is alleged to have acquired qualifying education through fraudulent means specifically by using the College of Basic Science and Humanities of this University in manufacturing a false I.Sc. Certificate and forged mark sheet, which he had used to get admission into B.V.Sc. Courses that ultimately has launched him into the position that he now holds.

His office admits that it is denuded of vital documents to support its Certificates that are in use in faculty biodata, a fact, which has led the State Vigilance Police to note that use of “fake certificates” “cannot be ruled out”. (Letter No. 2128/Vig.SS(S) dated 3 April 2007 of A.I.G. of Police, Vigilance to VC, OUAT in the matter of allegations against Dr. Hemanta Kumar Panda, Assistant Professor in Bacteriology and Virology.)

Vigilance Police has serious observations. According to it, intermediate diploma on the basis of which Dr. Panda obtained admission into University courses that facilitated his entry into the OUAT faculty “does not bear the Serial Number or the University Roll Number”. “Besides, the relevant records of the Basic Science College (of the University that issued the diploma) such as the Tabulation Register and the Mark Sheet ……..could not be verified as the same were reportedly not available in the University office”. Informing the VC of this, the Vigilance Police has noted, “It is apprehended that there is mischief in the missing of the important records like Tabulation register and mark sheets”. (Ibid).

It is surprising that, instead of initiating action against Panda for having used fraudulent documents to bag his position, the VC tried to hoodwink the Vigilance police with irrelevant documents vide Letter No. 10426/UAT dated 16 May 2007.

Refusing to be misled by this letter, the Director of Vigilance Police had to declare, “due to non availability of relevant documents like Tabulation Register of Annual I.Sc. Exam, 1976 and Mark Sheet…….we have closed our verification at our end” (Vigilance directorate letter No.5375/Vig (S) dated 16 August 2007 to VC, OUAT).

But, as the guilty always fidgets, fidgetiness was marked in the manners in which the University machinery was used to try again to convince the Vigilance Police that Panda’s Certificates were not fake, but genuine.

It took around two years to build up papers for the purpose.

Such as, after receiving the vigilance report dated 3 April 2007, which had observed, “genuineness in the allegation regarding production of fake I.Sc. Certificate by Dr. Panda at the time of admission cannot be ruled out”, the VC cultivated a backdated report from the Director of the University College of Basic Science and Humanities in support of Dr. Panda having passed I. Sc. in1976.

The Director of the College in his letter No.83 dated 18 Jan.2007 has clearly mentioned that he had produced the same “as per telephonic instruction” of the VC.

That the letter was backdated is clear from the fact that the Vigilance Police had not seen this letter before submitting its report on 3 April 2007. Otherwise it could have marked the difference between the “subjects” shown as “taken” in this report and the “subjects” enlisted in the diploma certificate used by Panda.

The difference is discernible. The report produced “as per telephonic instruction” shows that Panda had taken up English, M.I.L. (Oriya), Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Mathematics as his subjects in I.Sc. whereas the Diploma Certificate shows that Mathematics was never his subject.

This vital difference strongly suggests that either of the two documents is a fake document. But, in reality, both the documents are fake documents. A comparison between the two documents makes it clear that the VC had forced the College Director through “telephonic instruction” to produce a backdated document, which could be used to convince the vigilance about genuineness of the Certificates used by Panda. And, thus, the document created by the College Director surpassed the fake Certificates in fakeness.

But surprisingly the College Director was later included in a three-member Committee constituted by the VC on 4 October 2008 (Office Order No.44859/UAT ) to probe into and report on “possession of an alleged false I.Sc. Certificate” by Dr. Panda. This committee coined a report without examining the Certificate under “possession” of Dr. Panda.

This dereliction was deliberate.

Had the Certificates been scrutinized it could have become impossible not to note that the month of examination recorded in the Diploma Certificate was different from the month shown in available and confirmed records of the University. How the subjects listed in Panda’s Certificate differed from the list mentioned in the College Director’s report has already been hinted to above. These were vital and irrefutable proofs of fraud. So the Committee deliberately did not examine the Certificate under Panda’s “possession”.

The committee in its dateless report signed by two of its members on 6 February 2009, has, however, very tactfully indicated that it cannot be said for sure that the Certificates in question are genuine. It has just “recommended” that Prof. Panda has passed I.Sc. “on the basis of the documents available” while admitting that it is not “able to give a conclusive opinion” in absence of vital and relevant official records.

As for example, at Para 6 of the report it has noted,

“Tabulation Register could not be made available. In the Tabulation Register the marks secured by the students in all semesters are recorded to determine the class and pass or fail of the student”.

Similarly at Para 7 it has noted,

“Marks secured by the candidate as recorded in the Tabulation Register are supplied to the candidate in a prescribed format. This is called mark sheet. The copy of the mark sheet was also not available for which this document could not be verified”.

It may be noted that the mark sheet (Consolidated Semester Transcript) used by Panda to get admission into B.V.Sc. course has no mention of date and number. When the mark sheet given to other students of his batch carry number and date noted at places specified in the printed format, clear absence thereof in the one used by Panda establishes that the same is never genuine.

The committee tried to verify in this respect the agenda notes placed before the corresponding Academic Council. It was also not made available. The committee at Para 8 of its report noted,

“Normally, agenda notes are prepared for every meeting of the Academic Council. All details are given in the said agenda which are eventually approved or disapproved in the Academic Council.
In the proceedings it is normally mentioned as approved or disapproved with a brief note. The agenda notes of the Academic Council meeting held on 08.06.76 which is supposed to indicate the names of the passed or failed candidates of I.Sc. (Annual) 1976 including the name of Hemant Kumar Panda was not available. This is supposed to be also available in the University office or with Director, College of Basic Science and Humanities among others. But on search, this could not be made available”.

Thus it is clear that after the forgery was discovered, when the Vigilance inquiry was on the anvil, these vital records were destroyed.

Is it possible without involvement of the VC? The question hunts.

If the VC is not involved with this crime, he should have taken stern action in the matter and stopped Panda vitiating academic atmosphere any more with the stench of such dishonesty by suspending his services till he establishes his innocence, the onus of proving his honesty lying totally on him.

So, under the circumstances, it is apprehended that the VC is involved in this offense. Before reappointing him it should have been proper for the Chancellor to take an intelligence assessment on his antecedents, specifically as the Vigilance Directorate had smelt “mischief in the missing of important records” when he was the VC first term. Why he did not do that might be best known to himself.

Under the statutes, the Chancellor has the right to cause an enquiry to be made in respect of any matter connected with the administration of the University. But, sadly, he is silent, though he ought to understand that he should only be damaging his image by being reluctant to exercise his right.

To us, it is time, he should come out of his gubernatorial cocoon in the Raj Bhawan as the Chancellor and save Orissa’s Techno Universities from the syndicates of fraudsters and fraudulent certificate breeders.

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