New Delhi, March 28: The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has reported a string of irregular appointments, favoritism in job selections and “inadmissible financial up-gradations” in Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agriculture Sciences and Technology, Jammu (SKUAST-J) as well as SKUAST-Kashmir.
In its latest 2022 audit report tabled in the Parliament, CAG has remarked that “the human resource (HR) function of the two universities was far from satisfactory and was plagued by irregular appointments, favoritism and inadmissible financial up-gradations.”
The CAG audit report which covers the period 2016-17 to 2020-21 has relied on record checks at the offices of Registrar, deans of various faculties and Comptroller of SKUAST-J and SKUAST-K.
“During the scrutiny, service records of 739 personnel (30 per cent) of the total persons-in-position (2,462), as on March 2021, were selected on the basis of simple random sampling without replacement, for detailed scrutiny”, the report observed.
The CAG report has noted that “relaxing the minimum standards for appointments and promotions of teachers compromised the quality of teaching and research in the universities, while the “lateral entry to teaching positions from lower technical positions deprived the University of availing the benefits of recruiting meritorious teachers through open advertisements.”
The report highlighted that the extension of “undue benefits” due to excess drawl of pay, allowances and entitlements led to financial strain on the state coffers”.
The CAG has also reported irregularities in the appointment of teachers and scientific staff saying, “We noticed cases of appointments without adoption of mandatory Academic Performance Indicators, appointments without mandatory NET qualification, appointments by counting inadmissible periods in teaching experience and appointments through lateral entry by irregular up-gradation of technical posts”.
The CAG, in its report, recommended that there was an urgent need to review sanctioned strength to weed out redundant posts and initiate process for filling up of management positions through direct recruitment besides the universities should adopt UGC regulations in toto and avoid lateral entry of technical cadre to teaching positions to maintain the minimum standards prescribed for appointment of teachers.
With resoect to SKUAST-Kashmir, the report notes, that out of 561 vacant non-teaching posts as of March 2021, 357 posts under 52 categories were continuously lying vacant for over five years. These posts were neither advertised nor treated as deemed abolished in the light of instructions issued by Ministry of Finance Department of Expenditure, GoI and endorsed by the Finance Department, Government of J&K, requiring that posts remaining vacant for over two years are to be treated as deemed abolished”, adding “As of March 2021, 116 and 133 teaching posts were lying vacant in respect of SKUAST-J and SKUAST-K respectively”.
According to the report, the SKUAST-J appointed at least 31 Assistant Professors and Junior Scientists between the year 2011 and 2017. Out of the 31 Assistant Professors/ Junior Scientists, seven did not possess the minimum eligibility of NET. Besides, the appointments to teaching posts through lateral entry caused an additional financial burden of Rs 10.16 crore to state exchequer.
The CAG report further indicates that the “two Agriculture Universities had neither reviewed recruitment rules (as mandated once in five years) since their creation, nor put in place any mechanism for periodic assessment of vacancies, review of sanctioned strength and fixing of time frame within which vacant posts were to be filled which paved way for appointments in excess of sanctioned strength, ad hocism in governance and misutilisation of vacant post”, adding “the Universities had also not carried out restructuring of non-teaching cadre which resulted in avoidable litigations and
What was more ironic was that out of 206 vacant non-teaching posts in SKUAST-J as of March 2021, 96 posts under 23 categories were continuously lying vacant for over five years.
The report said the Registrar, SKUAST-J stated that power to re-designate any post was vested with the Vice Chancellor. The Assistant Registrar (GAD), SKUAST-K stated that re-designation of Assistant Professor and FCLA as MO and Medical Assistant was done on the request of the Dean, Faculty of Fisheries.
“The replies are not acceptable as concurrence of Finance and Planning Departments was a pre-requisite for creation of posts and the Financial Advisor Universities from time to time had forbade the universities from filling up any vacant post or drawal of salary against some other post. The Financial Advisor Universities, taking note of the irregularities, advised the University functionaries to abstain from adopting favoritism during exit conference,” it said continuation of redundant posts”