Universities favoured by ex-IGNOU VC made Rs 1,600 cr: CBI

Two private universities allegedly favoured by former IGNOU Vice-Chancellor V N Rajasekharan Pillai earned nearly Rs 1,600 crore in five years by conducting distance learning programmes in violation of norms, the CBI has found.

CBI sources claimed that the agency recovered documents related to investments worth Rs two crore from Pillai's premises during its searches.

They said the agency is trying to trace the money trail to establish whether there was any exchange of money to allow Punjab Technical University and Sikkim Manipal University to run distance learning courses.

Agency officials have already quizzed Pillai and the then officials of the two universities and further questioning might be conducted in the coming week, they said.

The CBI alleged that Sikkim Manipal University had made over Rs 400 crore while Punjab Technical University made over Rs 1,200 crore through these courses, which were being run in alleged violation of rules.

The agency claimed that although Pillai, being the head of the Distance Education Council (DEC), allowed them to run these courses, he was not the competent authority to give the nod.

The CBI sources, however, refused to give the names of the courses, saying it could hamper the future of enrolled students.

They said the agency has found that Pillai apparently ignored the advice of the joint committee of All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), Indira Gandhi National Open University and the UGC while granting the permission to start these courses in 2007. 

Sources said Pillai allegedly allowed Sikkim Manipal University to run distance learning programmes for over 50 courses ignoring the shortcomings highlighted in the inspection reports of the DEC.

He allegedly allowed them to run these courses on provisional basis for one year in 2007-08.

A post facto recognition was also given by him later in August 2007 to the university by allegedly manipulating the minutes of the third meeting of the joint committee, they said.

Pillai had taken over as IGNOU's VC in 2006 and continued till October 20, 2011. By being the VC, he was also the Chairman of DEC, which monitors the standards of all the Open Universities and distance education institutes in the country.

The agency had registered a case against him, Sikkim Manipal University and Punjab Technical University last week and also carried out searches at his premises in Thiruvananthapuram and Kottayam, from where some documents were recovered.

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