Graft, Anomalies at Ru: Govt sits on UGC probe report
The government is sitting on a UGC probe that found evidence of corruption and irregularities by Rajshahi University vice-chancellor and pro-VC in appointing RU teachers.
In the probe report, the University Grants Commission recommended taking action against VC Prof M Abdus Sobhan, pro-VC Prof Choudhury M Zakaria and others of the university over the matter. It also recommended scrapping the appointment of 34 teachers, who were recruited “relaxing university rules”.
The report said the vice-chancellor and the others relaxed the rules also to appoint the VC’s daughter and son-in-law as teachers at the public university.
Following investigation, the UGC submitted the report to the Ministry of Education, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on October 20.
Education Minister Dipu Moni, replying to a query on the action against the RU teachers, yesterday said, “It is really unfortunate that an allegation of irregularities has surfaced against officials of such a large public university.
“We had asked the UGC to probe the matter. Now it [the probe report] is submitted. We will inform all of you of our decision after reviewing the report.”
She said she had not yet received the report and since Secondary and Higher Education Division Secretary Mahbub Hossain was suffering from Covid-19, they could not discuss the matter.
“When he [secretary] joins office, we will sit and have the discussion,” Dipu Moni added.
During the investigation, the probe committee found evidence of 25 kinds of irregularities and corruption done by top members of the university administration.
The allegations included that the VC provided false information to the chancellor on voluntary retirement; he practiced nepotism in recruiting teachers; the VC and the others appointed heads of different departments violating university rules; and officials were involved in irregular financial transactions.
The report said the VC and the others relaxed the university’s recruitment policy on purpose and appointed his daughter and son-in-law as teachers. Besides, some 34 low-qualified candidates were recruited as teachers at different departments of the university.
“The teachers’ recruitment rules were relaxed with an ill intention …. Under qualified candidates were recruited in place of many qualified candidates,” it said.
Asked about the relaxation of rules, a committee member said the university authorities lowered the recommended CGPA requirements for the recruitment.
The probe report recommended carrying out an audit of the assets of RU VC, pro-VC, several other teachers, officials and their dependents as they “aided the corruption and irregularities”.
The report also suggested removal of RU Registrar Prof Abdul Bari for not cooperating during the investigation.
The issue surfaced after some 62 teachers and two jobseekers submitted a written complaint on January 4 to the PMO office, the education ministry, the UGC and the ACC against the VC and his deputy.
In a 300-page letter, they brought allegations of corruption and nepotism during the recruitment of teachers.
Following directives from the PMO and the ministry, the UGC formed a three-member probe committee, led by Dil Afroz Begum, a UGC member, to probe the allegations.
As a part of the investigation, the UGC also held an open public hearing to collect statements from both the parties.
Talking to the committee members, The Daily Star learnt that the regulatory body submitted a report of 36 pages and 700 pages of related documents, recommending actions against the teachers.
The probe report also said RU VC Prof Sobhan occupied a duplex of the university for 18 months showing various excuses. It recommended collecting Tk 5.61 lakh in rent from the VC for the house.
On Sunday, the VC held a press conference where he raised questions on the neutrality of the probe body and termed it “one-sided and biased.”
He also demanded judicial inquiry into the allegations.
Sobhan said all the allegations against him were “silly, false and fabricated”. He alleged that a section of people were trying to replace him and tarnish the image of the university and the government.
On the allegation regarding his daughter and son-in-law, he said the recruitment policy was formulated following rules of the university.
Deputy Education Minister Mohibul Hassan Chowdhoury yesterday said, “If the probe was done without following proper procedures, the whole process will become questionable. We will look into the matter after reviewing the UGC probe report.”