Published: 12th October 2021
JNU VC misled Executive Council to hide the scale of embezzlement of public funds: JNUTA
The teachers said that neither was the EC asked to and nor was any disciplinary enquiry ordered to find out, through due process, the truth of the matter
The Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers' Association (JNUTA) has accused the Vice-Chancellor of trying to hide the scale of embezzlement of public funds at the university and his inaction by hurriedly taking action against the professor accused of misappropriating more than Rs 88 lakhs. They also demanded that an enquiry be instituted on the alleged cover-up of financial irregularities and the VC be personally held responsible.
Was the JNU Act violated?
The teachers, at a press conference on October 11, said that both fraud and embezzlement are serious violations of JNU rules, "yet the entire exercise that was clearly orchestrated in the EC by the Vice-Chancellor was nothing but an attempt to hide his own inaction and the true scale of financial irregularities caused by the administration’s wanton mismanagement of public funds over the last five years". "The consequences of this cover-up by the Vice-Chancellor will be that many of the guilty would get away scot-free while genuine research activity in JNU gets increasingly mired in bureaucratic red tape," said the teachers.
The teachers said, "The VC has violated the letter and spirit of the JNU Act by deliberately misleading the EC into taking a decision without being duly informed of the facts of the case." But how did this happen?
No due process
The teachers said that neither was the EC asked to nor was any disciplinary enquiry ordered to find out, through due process, the truth of the matter. They alleged that despite the recommendations of the Fact-Finding Committee (FFC), the JNU EC was advised that the inquiry and investigation against the charged persons be outsourced to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and to the police. "This sleight of hand attempted by the VC’s compliant EC is nothing, but a smokescreen designed to obscure the extent of the scandal, as it effectively ensures that the investigation process inside JNU does not go any further, even as the charged employees are denied due process," said the JNUTA.
But that's not all, the teachers said that even as the JNU employees were being tried for embezzlement, the vendors, who are equally party to the forgery, are not even in the picture. "Signs of a cover-up are also evident in the fact that even as criminal cases are to be made out against identified JNU employees, there is no process of identifying all the fraudulent vendor companies which have allegedly received payments against forged bills and need to be criminally prosecuted," said the teachers.
The JNUTA pointed out that the method followed to figure out the amount of embezzlement was also flawed. They said that there has been an attempt to fix Rs 88,10,712 as the only amount which has been misappropriated or embezzled. However, they alleged that this amount is only the amount established to be the "excess expenditure incurred in four projects". The method of such discrepancies, according to the findings, involved "procuring false bills of consumables from actual or shadow vendors, getting them approved, and pocketing of the payment made for the same by all those involved without anything being received in exchange" by the varsity or the project. "This modus operandi can be used even for expenditure that falls within the limit of the sanctioned grant, while expenditures involving no siphoning off can exceed the sanctioned grants. The ‘excess’ amount then neither tells us how much money has been actually siphoned off and who have been its beneficiaries – it only reveals the failure of the system of checks and accounting procedures," said the teachers.