Tainted spl officer for Shimoga UAS

Political intervention in appointments to institutions of higher learning is commonplace these days. The latest case in point is appointment of a special officer to the proposed University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS) in Shimoga.

In most cases, special officers have gone on to become vice chancellors after a university is established.

According to sources, former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa is said to have cleared a file pertaining to the appointment of Prabhakhar Shetty for the post of special officer, a few days before he demitted office. Shetty, 62, a native of Hiriyur in Chitradurga district, is facing several charges, including molestation.

The Trade Union Co-ordination Centre (TUCC) had submitted a memorandum to the Governor, who is also the chancellor of universities, seeking an inquiry into the “illegal appointment” of Shetty as director of research, the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore in 2004.

Currently, Shetty is serving as a consultant to the State government’s Department of Agriculture.

Letter to governor

In a memorandum dated March 31, 2004 submitted to the then governor, TUCC general secretary G R Shivashankar had stated that Shetty was appointed the director of research, UAS, GKVK, in 2003, through unfair means. Shetty was accused of misusing funds while serving as a farm superintendent at Gangavathi in Raichur district.

He was charged with misusing funds of the UAS Employees’ House Building Co-operative Society to the tune of Rs 1,69,31,200 while working as treasurer of the society, the letter stated.

Professors disappointed

Such a move has caused consternation among a number of professors of agricultural sciences. They are of the view that appointing a tainted person as the head of any educational institution would not only tarnish the reputation of that institution, but also dilute the credibility of the post.

They urged the government  to choose the right person for the post at the earliest.

A professor of the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, who wished to be unnamed, said: “We are not asking the government to initiate legal action against Shetty. But he doesn’t deserve the post (of a special officer). What’s the need to appoint a tainted person to a key post when young scientists with a clean image are available?” he asked.

Young scientists needed

K T Gangadhar, working president, Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, told Deccan Herald: “We appeal to the government  not to appoint Shetty as the special officer of the proposed university in Shimoga under any circumstance. If the situation demands, we will take a delegation to the chief minister in the coming days. We want young scientists with thorough knowledge about Malnad crops to head the university, and not a tainted, retired professor.”

Speaking with Deccan Herald, farmers’ leader Kadidal Shamanna said: “It’s not a healthy development at all. I really wonder why the government is keen to make a tainted professor the special officer of the proposed university in the Malnad region.”

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