Established in 1962, Magadh University which boasts of being located in land of enlightenment of Lord Buddha and receives the spiritual breeze of the Bodhi tree is once again in news for all the wrong reasons. It is worth mentioning here that today Magadh University is one of the largest universities of Bihar and India. There are 44 constituent and 105 affiliated colleges under this University.
What is the Mess?
Against the vacancies of 12 seats for the post of principals during the academic year 2012-13, the then Vice chancellor, Arun Kumar, appointed 15 Principals. Surprise! 15 selection for 12 seats, well, it is not a musical chair game. It is a serious business, albeit of greed. Three appointments made against non-existent posts in anticipation of vacancies likely to be caused due to superannuation/death/resignation/dismissal/incapacitation of incumbent principals. Who does not need such visionary Vice chancellor! I mean seriously.
Why was 'Lollypop' Gifted?
Apart from buying the sleeping pill to their conscience, game of power and money was played for manipulating the records, tampering documents, inclusion of non-entitled one as a member of the selection committee, keeping away government nominee from the entire procedure, awarding disproportionately high marks in interview to favoured less-deserving candidates and even ignoring a government ban on appointments.
One of the appointees was earlier charge-sheeted by the Gaya police for molesting a folk singer in a private resort and another did have questionable financial integrity (embezzled public money by producing false TA bill) in his previous job.
A junior principal was made to sit in the selection panel, while the rules say that the senior most principal in the University will be a member of the selection committee. As per the FIR, no less than four principals were superseded to accommodate Shrikant Sharma, the then Principal, Gaya College, Gaya, on the selection committee allegedly with ulterior motives.
Neither the provisions of the Bihar Universities Act nor the constitution of India provide religion-based reservation. But for weird reasons, Dalbir Singh was appointed against the non-existent Sikh quota.
Well, these are small issues and I guess their crimes are too small and naive to get selected for principal! Isn’t it? Even peons of Bihar’s secretariat office are better commonsensical in language of bribe!
What is the Aftershocks?
As if these all tremors were not enough, another aftershock came in form of that not a single appointment letter was issued to any of the 15 appointment principals or at least there is no documentary evidence of the appointment letters having ever been issued. Neither the university dispatch register reveal any entry to show that the appointment letters were issued. Still the principals were not only allowed to join, they were also posted in colleges and given salary from the public exchequer causing huge loss of public money.
On enquiring the appointees as to how they came to know about their having been appointed, a usual blank response was received. Perhaps, vibrating their tongue will produce music which can seduce a lot of big names in this scam. As per the records of the FIR, they came to know about the appointment from 'other sources' without identifying the actual sources; while few said that they were telephonically informed by the university authorities about the appointments.
I owe them, and you should too for not declaring themselves as the angels of God, because such invisible appointment is not possible without His interference! Who knows that 'other sources' may be their almighty directly communicating to them! Well, I am an atheist but worship money, which is true God for me!
How was the Epicenter Unearthed?
The appointment scam, first hit the headlines following the then Governor D. Y. Patil's decision to institute a one-man inquiry into the appointments. Retired IAS officer BB Lal, also a former District Collector of Gaya, was entrusted with the inquiry. Lal submitted the report mentioning that "the entire transaction relating to the appointment of 12 principals is replete with instances of violation of the provisions of the Bihar State Universities (BSU) Act, the statutes and executive instructions and is a testimony to the corrupt practices, conspiratorial machinations, retrospective documentation, interpolations, clandestine action etc". Referring to the other three appointments made against non-existent posts, the report said that these appointments were "entirely arbitrary and unwarranted by law/statute".
Earlier, on 7 April 2015, Justice AK Tripathi, in his order, ticked off Magadh University for corruption and nepotism and directed the Vigilance Investigation Bureau to investigate the matter and take follow-up action in accordance with the provisions of law.
The Vigilance Bureau approached the court with its preliminary report in mid-May, and informed justice Tripathi that a criminal case has been instituted against those responsible for fraud and other malpractices in the appointments on the basis of material available with the bureau. Justice Tripathi directed the Vigilance Bureau to go ahead with the follow-up action required in the case.
Vigilance Investigation Bureau then registered a criminal case against Magadh University ex-VC Arun Kumar, ex-registrar DK Yadav; deputy registrar (retired) Md Fahimuddin, selection committee member and governor’s representative Baleshwar Paswan, and 21 others including 15 beneficiaries of this appointment scam.
Justice Tripathi will again review the case status on 3 August' 2015.
What is Accomplished?
On 5th June 2015, the Vigilance Bureau arrested former Magadh University vice-chancellor Arun Kumar and the principal of Ram Lakhan Singh College, Bakhtiyarpur, Praveen Kumar in this case. Arun Kumar and Praveen Kumar were arrested from their residences in Patna and were produced before a court who remanded them in judicial custody till June 16. However, the high court has already quashed the appointments made by Arun Kumar, thereby making things easier for the vigilance sleuths.
In view of the nature of charges levelled against the Principals, the vigilance sleuths do not need formal warrant of arrest to nab them, and after the filing of the case, the vigilance can arrest them anytime they come on the radar of the sleuths.
The university officials, according to sources, have prepared a contingency plan to manage the colleges in case vigilance sleuths arrest the Principals. Senior-most teachers of these colleges are likely to be entrusted with the administration of the colleges in case of arrest of incumbent principals.
Financial power of the principals who figure as accused in this case has been distributed among university officials. Sushil Kumar Singh, the university Registrar, has been delegated the financial powers earlier exercised by the Gaya College Principal; Dean students Welfare Sitaram Singh will exercise the financial power of four different colleges including ANS College, Barh and SBAM College, Arwal.
Is Magadh University Haunted?
Oh! No. I am not talking about the spirit. When money becomes God, greed is what haunts one!
Not believe me but statistics. Surprisingly, five former Vice-Chancellors of Magadh University are now facing criminal charges. All these former VCs facing criminal charges were appointed in Lalu-Rabri-Nitish regime.
The list of Vice-Chancellors facing criminal charges opens with S C Mukherjee, a retired High Court judge who was appointed as the Vice-Chancellor after retirement, has been charged by the economic offences wing of the CID for his alleged involvement in a degree scandal - a scandal in which a VIP wife was declared to have obtained first class in PG History exams without appearing in seven out of eight papers of the examinations. However, Mukherjee managed to get conditional bail; the other former VCs late B N Rawat and Ziyauddin Ahmad have been to jail in the same scandal. Perhaps law of knowledge or muscle power came handy to Mukherjee and he could not get kisses from the healthiest mosquitoes of prison!
With latest arrest of Arun kumar, Magadh University has got the dubious distinction of having the maximum number of jailed VCs, as no less than three former VCs of the university have been to jail.
And you thought they are criminal? They are person of excellence, all striving hard to set the record for Magadh University so that it gets publicity and in turn foreign funding! After all how a person of excellence can commit crime, and even they do then think of yourselves, you all just 'mango people' can commit what sort of heinous crime! Well, still angry with them, have some mercy, after all it is the fault of the University. Stupefied? Have you not seen the sub-heading? It is haunted, what these poor chaps can do about it?
On a seriously funny concluding note; one of the vision and mission of Magadh University is ‘To impart quality education to meet national and global challenges’. And thankfully everyone in power is doing their bit to make this university itself a challenge for the nation. I guess, the breezes from the Bodhi Tree has blew in opposite direction or may be these men of excellence love to enjoy the breeze at Beur jail! It is now or never to take bold decision and save already derelict education system of Bihar.
Paul Scherrer Institute, Switzerland
Dr. Siddharth Suman is a freelancer writing especially on societal issues, science, and education in both Hindi and English for various online media houses. In addition, he loves to write poetry and short story for the expression of personal emotions and thoughts. His poetry book titled 'Evaporating Soul — between love and life' may be read at Kindle.