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Former VC prime accused in Visva-Bharati scam

Calcutta, April 19: Dilip Sinha, the Visva-Bharati vice-chancellor between 1995 and 2001, and several senior officials have been put in the dock by a one-man panel probing allegations that the university had granted affiliations to dubious institutions.

The Moloy Sengupta committee held Sinha responsible for the violation of varsity rules in giving affiliation to 40 institutions across the country between 1998 and 2001. Visva-Bharati vice-chancellor Sujit Basu told a news conference here this afternoon that he would hand over Sengupta’s report to the CBI, which is probing the theft of Rabindranath Tagore’s Nobel medal and other memorabilia.

The decision to hand over the report to the CBI was taken at a meeting of the university’s executive council in Calcutta. The CBI had recently sought the report to find out if there was any link between the “affiliation scam” and the heist.

Senguta, a retired judge of Calcutta and Sikkim high courts, submitted the report to the university on March 14.

“We will send the inquiry report to President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, who also holds the post of Visitor of the university. Since the President of India is the appointing authority of vice-chancellors of our university, he will decide on what action is to be taken against those found guilty,” Basu said.

Sinha, now in Calcutta, said the charge against him “is far from the truth”.

The affiliations were granted “in conformity with an ordinance passed in 1997”, he said. “I did not take any individual decision.” He added: “The situation prevailing at Visva-Bharati has compelled the authorities to adopt this strategy to divert the attention of people from the main issue (the medal theft).”

The executive council had set up the one-man fact finding panel last October to ascertain the circumstances under which the university had “illegally” granted affiliations violating rules laid down in the 1997 ordinance introduced by the university.

Basu said the Sengupta committee has detected irregularities on several fronts:

• Only four out of the 40 institutions granted affiliations were registered under the Societies Registration Act, though according to Clause I of the ordinance, it is mandatory for institutions seeking the varsity’s affiliation to have such a registration.

• The institutions did not apply for affiliation in the university’s prescribed proforma, which is a must according to Clause XII.

• The former vice-chancellor did not take the university’s academic council and executive council into confidence before granting the affiliations as is prescribed in Clause III.

• The institutions were allowed to set up their academic and administrative bodies without any university representative, which is a violation of Clause V.

Basu said affiliations to all the 40 institutions would be cancelled from the current academic session. However, he assured that students enrolled in the institutions till 2003 will remain under the jurisdiction of Visva-Bharati, which will also award them degrees. “We will consider the affiliations valid till 2003 for the sake of the 17,000 students who are studying the courses in the 40 institutions,” Basu said.

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