THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Close on the heels of the controversy over the appointment of spouses of MLAs to teaching posts in universities, the Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies (Kufos) has landed in a nepotism row. Save University Campaign Committee, a forum of education activists, has approached Governor Arif Mohammed Khan with a complaint that the Vice Chancellor and Registrar-in-charge of Kufos facilitated appointment of their spouses as Dean (Fisheries) and Director (Research) respectively in the varsity.
The petition demanded action against the Vice Chancellor and the Registrar-in-charge for alleged nepotism and blatant violation of Kufos Act and Statutes. The petition urged the Governor, who is the Chancellor of the varsity, to nullify the controversial appointments.
According to the petitioners, the Kufos Act was amended just before the Model Code of Conduct for assembly election came into effect. It was amended with the aim of extending the term of service of Dean to five years with salary and allowances as same as that of a senior professor, along with a special allowance. Only one eligible application each was received for the posts of Dean (Fisheries) and Director (Research) and these were of the spouses of the Vice Chancellor and the Registrar-in-Charge, the petition said.
"The University Governing Council did not scrutinise the application for the post of Director (Research) and choose eligible candidates. The selection committee was constituted by the Vice Chancellor himself. Besides, the meeting of the selection committee to recruit Dean (Fisheries) was not chaired by the Vice Chancellor or any authority empowered as per Kufos Act or Statutes," said the petition.
VC denies charges
Responding to the charges, Kufos Vice Chancellor K Riji John told The New Indian Express that the allegations against the appointments were baseless and the candidates, who were selected for the posts were duly qualified. He said the posts were advertised in two major Malayalam dailies and an English daily and the notifications were published in the university website as well.
"Only one candidate each turned up for both the posts. The statute of the university stipulates that the Vice chancellor shall constitute the interview panel and it was followed in both the cases," he said. "Being the spouses of the Vice Chancellor and the Registrar-in-Charge of the University need not come as disqualification for the candidates, who have excellent track records. Both candidates were selected on the basis of merit by the interview board," he added.
The Vice Chancellor also denied irregularities in the interview process and added that he kept himself out of the interview panel for selection of Dean (Fisheries) as his wife was the applicant.