Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Punjab (RGNUL) is under the scanner of the Ministry of Higher Education, Government of Punjab after numerous financial and administrative irregularities were highlighted in RGNUL’s Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) reports from 2006-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18.
The state’s Higher Education Department has sought for an explanation from the Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Paramjit Singh Jaswal for the discrepancies found in the report amongst other things.
On 31st August, 2019, the alumni of the University had sent an anonymous letter to Mr. Anurag Verma, the then Principal Secretary of Higher Education, Punjab, citing various grievances with Dr. Jaswal ranging from “erroneous personal use of official vehicles” to “appointment of the Registrar in non-compliance with the RGNUL Act, 2006”, and sought for an immediate inquiry. The letter sought for a “forensic audit” into the conduct of Dr. Jaswal and claimed that the corruption in the University is “deep rooted and well-hidden”.
It is to be noted at this point that as per the RTI Act, the full financial statements of the University have to be published on the website. However, there has been abject failure of adherence of this obligation since the inception of the University. Sources say that the duty was shirked and anyone seeking to peruse the statements was asked to see them personally as “the information is voluminous and only available in paper form”.
However, it should be noted that these Financial Statements are typed out on a computer and not handwritten, and hence cannot be “only available in paper form”. As of today, the financial statements have still not been uploaded on the website of the RGNUL .
There have also been allegations that funds have been disbursed without inviting tenders, in contravention of the RGNUL Regulations. For instance, Rs. 1.7 lakh was spent on the 2017 RGNUL National Moot Competition.
. In the CAG report, it was stated that the tendering process was done away with in order to conclude the exercise swiftly. Though the University stated that the lowest quotation had been accepted, the CAG report itself mentions that there was no evidence or paper trail of the same.
It wass further highlighted in the CAG report that there has been a denial of intended benefits to the students under the Central Sector Scholarship Scheme of “Top Class Education for SC and ST students” for the year 2016-2017.
Despite four students applying for the scholarship, there had been no disbursement of the funds and the eligible students were deprived of the intended benefits of the scheme. The University responded that the grant was to be released by the Government into the accounts of the beneficiaries and the information regarding the same was given to the University by the Ministry accordingly.
STUDENTS HAVE FILED AN APPEAL TO GET A COPY OF THE INQUIRY REPORT AGAINST SP SINGH TO NO AVAIL
Once the protest at RGNUL had ended, Additional District and Sessions Judge, Smt. Manjot Kaur was appointed by the then Chancellor, as the Enquiry Officer to initiate an inquiry into the conduct of SP Singh. Students, who were subjected to cross-questioning by SP Singh’s lawyer for up to 4 hours in some cases, had engaged a law firm based in Chandigarh as their pro bono legal counsels looking at the seriousness of the situation.
The students have run pillar to post to obtain a copy of the Inquiry Report. However, the same has not been furnished to them and they have now approached the Central Information Commission.
“RGNUL says we don’t have it. District Court, where the Inquiry Office sat says that a report has been prepared and sent to the Chancellor and advises that he same be sought from the High Court. The High Court tells us to seek the report from RGNUL. We don’t know when the Central Information Commission will hear us”, they say.RGNUL Under Govt Scanner Following CAG Reports On Financial Irregularities
A letter dated 2nd December, 2019, has brought up the issue of the illegal extension of Dr. Jaswal’s appointment as the VC of RGNUL. Students of the University had addressed a letter to a judge of the Supreme Court of India regarding and had requested him to take action.
The letter cites Section 22(5) of the Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law Act, 2006 which states that the term of the office of a VC will be for a period of five years, and that he shall be eligible for reappointment for further terms. Additionally, an extension of a maximum of one year can be awarded to the VC by the Chancellor.
With the cracks in the administration of the University slowly seeing the light of the day as a result of the students’ increasing demands for accountability and action, the Punjab Government has now initiated a probe into the functioning of RGNUL on the basis of the CAG report. It has been reported in ‘Hindustan Times’ that an Education Department official informed HT that the government had the right to ask how the money was spent as Rs. 220 crores had been pumped into the University’s system by them.
A reply has been asked from the authorities before further action against the University.
Read the letter here: