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Panjab University is thinking of banning RTI activists !!!

Chandigarh : After the murder of whistleblower engineer Satendra Dubey in 2003, on one hand the Supreme Court of India has been continuously giving instructions to the Central Government for whistleblower protection, on the other hand the situation is that Panjab University of Chandigarh, which receives grants worth crores from the Government of India, has been devising tactics to protect the corrupt and suppress RTI activists.  Recently, such a case has come to light in which this university has started considering banning the entry of Dr. Rajinder K. Singla, an RTI activist from Chandigarh, into the university campus.  Although being a public institution, Dr. Singla has the same right to visit the campus as any common man, but it seems that the Panjab University administration, fed up with the frauds and scams being exposed day by day, has perhaps become so nervous that they have failed to appreciate the difference between constitutional and unconstitutional actions.

The case begins on 25 November 2023, when in a syndicate meeting held that day, Syndic Virender Singh alias Vicky Gill said that notice should be given to Mr RK Singla, because he gets his work done by putting undue pressure on the university officials.  Virender Singh did not present before the syndicate members any evidence or document to substantiate that the University was being blackmailed by Dr. RK Singla by misusing RTI Act.  Dr. Singla was forced to file an RTI application asking the PU officials to provide him all the facts and documents on the basis of which banning of his entry in Panjab University was discussed in the Syndicate Meeting.

Virender Singh, while arguing for the entry ban of a former college professor Tarun Ghai, has said that he is neither a student of this university, nor a teacher, nor does he have any dealings with the university.  Here the question arises whether only students, teachers or people who come for some work in the university are allowed to enter into premises of Panjab University? On the other hand, Dr. Singla has been associated with this university for the last 43 years as a student, teacher, researcher and RTI activist.  The university has not yet clarified any cogent reason as to why his entry is being prohibited.

Panjab University Vice-Chancellor Professor Renu Vig, while directing the Dean College Development Council Professor Sanjay Kaushik to note this matter, did not clarify anything as to what are the rules under which a person can be barred from entering Panjab University, or  what is the threat to Panjab University due to Dr. Singla's entry?

In the last three decades, there were many such cases of corruption related to higher education, which Dr. Singla has been continuously exposing.  There is hardly any aspect of the functioning of Panjab University in which he has not exposed the scams.  Since the implementation of the Right to Information Act in the country in 2005, Dr Singla has filed 1675 RTI applications till date, and scams he unearthed have been continuously making headlines in newspapers.  Distribution of BPEd degrees to 23 students without affiliation and NCTE recognition, backdoor appointment of Dr Neera Grover, wife of former Vice Chancellor Professor Arun Kumar Grover, as Professor of Music, illegal approval of appointment of Mandeep Josan, daughter of college principal and university senator Dr BC Josan as Assistant Professor on her fake PhD degree, financial loss caused to the government exchequer by promoting favorites in gross violation of UGC norms, promoting SDO RK Rai to XEN bypassing Sadanand Enquiry Report which held him guilty of stealing cement bags from the university store, changing qualifications prior to selection for administrative posts like Registrar, Controller of Examination, Dean College Development Council to accomodate pre-decided favourites, appointment of Garvit, son of Professor Meena Sharma of University Business School in MBA without eligibility, accomodating favourites to selection posts under the garb of 'officiating' appointments bypassing merit, setting with examiners in the MBA paper-setting, installation of tubewells from the students' amalgamated fund, are some of the scans exposed by Dr Singla that hit headlines in the past decade. Above all, violation of University statutes by its affiliated colleges due to passivity, inaction and connivance of the University. University has been continuously and consistently making mockery of RTI Act by devising untenable strategies like enacting its own list of 48 items of exemption bypassing Sections 8 and 9 of the RTI Act to hide information.

If those who expose corruption in institutions run by taxpayers' money start being barred from entering those institutions, then whatever little hope of transparency, accountability and good governance emanating from right to Information is left in the country will also disappear. The flouting of RTI to protect corrupt officials and the blatant support to corruption by bringing into the syndicate the issue of banning entry of RTI activists like Dr. Singla into the university campus constitutes an example hardly found in the country. Dr. Singla has been bestowed with prestigious Jindal Prize-2011 alongwith other eminent personalities like former President of India Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam and social activist Anna Hazare for his crusade against corruption in Indian Education System.  

Dr. Singla said that the entire matter has been brought to the notice of Chancellor of Panjab University and Vice President of the country, but any action in this regard is still awaited.

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