Minister’s special officer accused of irregularities

Minister’s special officer accused of irregularities

Higher Education Minister G T Devegowda and his special officer K N Ninge Gowda

K N Ninge Gowda, special officer to Higher Education Minister G T Devegowda, is at the centre of a fresh controversy.

Financial irregularities to the tune of Rs 3.81 crore have been reported by an inquiry committee against Gowda during his stint as registrar (evaluation) of Bangalore University during the 2014-15 financial year.

Following allegations of additional expenditure, the Registrar of Bangalore University had constituted a sub-committee in 2016 headed by Dr R K Somashekar, Professor and Chairman of Environmental Science, Bangalore University. The sub-committee submitted its report to the registrar highlighting the fact that officials not only flouted norms but also failed to follow procedures during reappropriation of funds. “It appears that the registrar (evaluation) has misused his powers besides exhibiting dereliction of duty. The committee unanimously suggests that strict action be initiated,” the report, a copy of which is with DH, said.

Mentioning the account details of Bangalore University for the financial year 2014-15, the committee quoted various instances were expenditure has exceeded allocation and the grants have been reallocated from next year’s budget without the prior approval from the authorities. This apart, sitting fee, TA/DA, the board of appointment, printing & stationery, remuneration for evaluators in commerce discipline, supervision charges and maintenance of vehicles are some of the heads on which the university had to spend Rs 18,93,77,019 as against the estimated amount of Rs 15,12,50,000.

The report stated that though there is a provision for re-appropriation, it has to be done with proper procedure. But the finance department has done it without approval based only on oral orders of senior officials. “Finance officials admitted their mistake saying they cleared the bills due to work pressure and cited the same reason in a few other instances,” said the report, terming the response of the finance officer a joke. The report has also blamed the department head (Registrar Evaluation) for inaction till it was brought to his notice by government accounts officers, which proves dereliction of duty.

“The accounts officers have also found that wrong statistics were submitted when the department had filed a proposal for the reutilisation of the money,” the report added.

The two departments — Finance and Evaluation should maintain ledger books and mention details of the amount allocated, amount spent and the remaining amount for any projects in the respective financial years. However, none of these procedures was followed.

Rejecting the claims of the report, Ninge Gowda clarified that a few people are trying to tarnish his image. “As a special officer to the Higher Education Minister, I am working on bringing strict norms in the functioning of educational institutions and universities. This has become a nightmare for people who are running educational institutions with a vested interest. They are taking revenge on me with this well-planned report,” Ninge Gowda said, threatening to sue DH if this story is published.