In a setback to Bihar Governor Devanand Konwar, the Patna High Court has quashed the appointments of Vice Chancellor and Pro-Vice Chancellor made by him.
The judgement was given on a writ petition stating that the Governor made unilateral appointments without consulting the state government. The court has directed the Governor to make fresh appointments within 30 days in consultation with the state government. Earlier, a single bench had also struck down the appointments.
The Governor, who is ex-officio Chancellor of the universities in the state, had appointed six Vice Chancellors across Bihar, including that of Patna University in August 2011. The Accountant General, in his inspection report submitted in July this year, had said that these appointments were irregular as no consultation was ever held between the Governor and the Chief Minister.
The notification issued by the Governor last year had, however, claimed that it is issued in consultation with the state government - something the state government has repeatedly denied.
The state government further said the move violated the Bihar State Universities Act, 1976 which made it mandatory for the Chancellor to consult the state government.
The Accountant General's report analysed their appointment as more than Rs. 1300 crore is disbursed to them and the Vice Chancellor is also in control of the financial purse of the University.
The audit report mentioned that the Vice Chancellor of Patna University, Shambhu Nath Singh, doesn't fulfil the eligibility criterion for appointment, and in strong words said that Mr Singh was able to obtain the post through the collusion of the senior officials of the Governor's Secretariat. It further said that Mr Singh has been drawing his salaries from the funds substantially contributed from the Consolidated Fund of the state.
The report also mentioned that two appointees - Dr Vimal Kumar of Muzaffarpur's BR Ambedkar university and Dr Arbind Kumar of Kameshwar Singh Sanskrit University in Darbhanga - were facing criminal enquiries. This, the report said, goes against the University Grants Commission's requirement that persons of the highest level of competence, integrity, morals and institutional commitments are to be appointed as Vice Chancellors.
The Accountant General had also conducted an audit where it objected to the expenditure incurred by the Governor from 2009 to 2012. The report, submitted to the Governor's Secretariat in the last week of June said that Mr Konwar made several trips within the country that were not sanctioned, as required, by the President of the country. The report said the Governor should refund the state a total of Rs. 1.48 crore. This includes, according to the report, compensation for trips which had been green lit but which the Governor allegedly extended.
The audit report also pointed out there were five staff members who were recruited on contract for the Governor's office without advertising the posts or following the prescribed budgets. These staffers include VS Giri Reddy who serves as an advisor to Governor. In three years, Rs. 19, 86,975 was spent on these salaries.