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'Whistleblower' biotechnologist shown the door

Kalyan Ray, New Delhi, April 28, 2012, DHNS: 1:14 IST
In a contentious decision that rocked academic circles here, a biotechnologist with a premier Central government institute has been dismissed from service by the institute's officiating director who, in the past, was charged with misuse of power.

NIPER InstituteLast week, K K Bhutani, Officiating Director of the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER) in Chandigarh, issued a dismissal order to terminate the service of associate professor of biotechnology Nilanjan Roy for committing four offences between 2008 and 2009.

Documents accessed by Deccan Herald show that a NIPER internal panel found Roy guilty of “attempt to embezzlement of institute funds (Rs 51,530), forging of a credit note in February 2012, non-submission of answer books and results of one batch of students and suspension of teaching class of another batch.”

Issued on April 20, 2012, the order said, “Penalty of dismissal from service with immediate effect is imposed on Roy keeping in view the gravity of misconduct.”

Roy, who was on suspension for one year before the dismissal order was served, claimed he was targeted for acting as a whistle-blower. He used the Right to Information Act, 2005, to access official documents, exposing several instances of misappropriations in the institute that comes under the Union Ministry of Chemicals and Fertiliser.

The institute also issued orders to withdraw facilities extended to Roy and asked him to vacate his official residence.

None of the orders have been implemented so far as appeals against them are pending. The appellate authority in NIPER is the chairman of the Board of Governors. The post is currently held by V M Katoch, Director-General of Indian Council of Medical Research.

“I have received an appeal from Roy and sought comments from NIPER administration. Once I receive them I will examine the charges and appeals in accordance with the NIPER Act and government rules,” Katoch told Deccan Herald.

In his appeal, Roy said: “I am being humiliated, demoralised and frustrated. My only crime is that I tried to prevent the corrupt act of officiating director and dean.” The charges against Bhutani, supported by documents accessed by Roy using RTI, include alleged diversion of 11th five year plan money allocated to NIPER and drawing pension from the institute under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research he was earlier employed with, as well as drawing full salary from NIPER.

Roy had posted these documents on his blog. He also obtained government reports showing financial and academic mismanagement at NIPER in the last five years, much before Bhutani was made an officiating director.

Asked to comment, Bhutani said: “Financial and proprietary charges are pending against him since 2007. The action has been taken based on departmental inquiry. It is open to appeal.”

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