CHENNAI: Raj Bhavan has been sitting on a request seeking permission to probe corruption charges against University of Madras vice-chancellor S Gowri for the past five months. The state higher education department wrote a letter on March 9 seeking permission based on evidence gathered by the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption. Raj Bhavan did not respond to an email sent by TNIE on Sunday.
It is alleged that Gowri, during his stint in Anna University between 2012 and 2020, transferred funds without indicating the proper names of recipients and issued a self-cheque for Rs 1.31 crore, further investing and re-investing funds without obtaining approval from the registrar of Anna University. It was found that open cheques were issued 96 times, and on 24 occasions, cheques were issued without bearers’ name. Cheque registers were not maintained as per format. The university had communicated this to the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in November 2021.
Gowri said a few faculty members with vested interest against extension of his tenure are spreading these allegations. The allegations pertain to my work period in Anna University, and I’ve already given my clarification to the CAG, Gowri said. His tenure as Madras University V-C ends on August 19. Some syndicate members recently wrote to the CM alleging that Gowri authorised spending of `30 lakh by inviting tenders in violation of the TN Transparency in Tenders Act.
Irregularities by V-C also during current stint: DVAC
Quoting the letter from the state vigilance commissioner, higher education secretary D Karthikeyan, in his letter dated March 9 to the principal secretary to the governor, said, “During the course of the collection of vigilance intelligence, the DVAC has collected certain information against S Gowri. To conduct a preliminary inquiry into the allegations, the governor’s approval is required under Section 17A(1) of the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Act 2018.” Karthikeyan added that Gowri committed certain irregularities in his current post as the V-C of Madras University.
During his tenure as director of the Educational Multimedia Research Centre (EMMRC) at Anna University, Chennai, from 2012 - 2020, it is alleged that Gowri indulged in improper record maintenance, financial mismanagement and violation of financial rules. Similarly, after being appointed the V-C of Madras University on August 20, 2020, Gowri spent `30 lakh to renovate his bungalow, violating tendering rules. The syndicate members’ letter to the CM said, “Instead of inviting open tenders, Gowri invited multiple tenders for bits and parcels, thereby violating the provisions of the TN Transparency in Tenders Act 1998.”
Responding to these allegations, Gowri told TNI E that EMMRC was one of the 21 media centres across the country established and funded by the University Grants Commission. “Funds allotted for EMMRC were scrutinised by the Consortium for Educational Communication (CEC) of the UG C. I obtained approval from the CEC at every level. The fund utilisation has also been approved by the Anna University V-C. I have provided explanations to the CAG as well.”
On spending of Rs 30 lakh, Gowri said, “I obtained approval from the finance committee and senate committee and adhered to every procedure before spending funds on the renovation of the bungalow.”