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Raj Bhavan stands by list of VCs

Ranchi, May 9: Raj Bhavan today gave a measured justification of its new VC appointments, countering the state government’s accusations of highhandedness by claiming total transparency in the entire process in a bid to stop the unseemly controversy from escalating.

Highly placed sources said Raj Bhavan did not want any controversy over appointments and hoped the state and academics would understand the sanctity of the selection procedure.

Raj Bhavan’s officer on special duty (judicial) Nalin Kumar explained how governor Syed Ahmed led a transparent selection process based on recommendations of a search committee to refute HRD minister Geetashree Oraon’s angry outbursts of “tribal academics being ignored” and “state suggestions snubbed”.

“We are transparent (on VC and pro-VC appointments). We followed the healthy practice of constituting an eminent search committee to pick names, a tradition that started during the tenure of M. Rama Jois, former Jharkhand governor. They recommended the names of academics,” Kumar said.

The governor’s list comprises ISM-Dhanbad environmental science professor Gurdeep Singh as the VC of Vinoba Bhave University, Hazaribagh; Ranchi University Academic Staff College director R.P.P. Singh as the VC of Chaibasa-headquartered Kolhan University and Patna’s AN College-based economics professor K. Ahsan as the VC of Sido Kanhu Murmu University, Dumka.

A.N. Ojha, pro-VC of Nilambar-Pitambar University in Daltonganj, is its new VC, leaving the post of pro-VC vacant. BIT-Mesra registrar A.P. Krishna is the new VBU pro-VC.

Ojha and Singh have already taken over their new posts. Ahsan is expected to join tomorrow.

Though Jharkhand State University Act 2000 is silent on appointing VCs and pro-VCs via search committees, that is the standard practice to fill top vacancies in most states.

Also, when Jois introduced this practice in early 2000s as the governor, it wasn’t contested.

Formed in March 2013, the search committee — “balanced” according to Raj Bhavan and “skewed in the absence of tribals” for critics — comprised high court judge D.N. Patel, then chief secretary R.S. Sharma, former Ranchi University VC A.A. Khan, governor’s principal secretary R.S. Poddar and JPSC boss Debashis Gupta who left midway. It got 200-plus applicants and called 67 for interactions in January.

Panel members met at least five or six times before finalising recommendations, Raj Bhavan sources said.

On the “inordinate delay” of over a year, Raj Bhavan officials said it was due to a chain of events that included retirements that upped vacancies, as well as Lok Sabha elections and its related consequences.

The first advertisement in May 2013 was for three posts, VC and pro-VC of Sido-Kanhu Murmu University and VC of Vinoba Bhave University. But VC posts of Nilambar-Pitambar and Kolhan became vacant midway into the process as three-year terms of incumbents expired.

“Raj Bhavan decided it would save time if two more posts were clubbed with the original three and released a second ad in November-December 2013. When the model code of conduct was clamped, it took time to get Election Commission clearances. Chief minister Hemant Soren got busy with elections and was unable to meet governor Ahmed on this matter. Finally, day before yesterday, they met,” an official said.