Open and shut case of recruitment flaws

Open and shut case of recruitment flaws

KSOU: Varsity flouted norms, directives in appointing regional directors

Open and shut case of recruitment flaws

The Karnataka State Open University (KSOU), which is mired in controversies, has flouted its own norms and State government directives while appointing Regional Directors (RDs) for its centres.

Documents available with Deccan Herald show that the varsity created ‘non-sanctioned’ temporary posts, extended the term of the RDs (violating Section 2(9)(3) of the general recruitment statute, 2004, of KSOU) and hiked their salaries, resulting in serious financial burden on the varsity. The age criterion was also overlooked.

The appointments were made between July, 2010 and January, 2013. K S Rangappa was the Vice-Chancellor (V-C) of KSOU from December 10, 2009 to January 10, 2013.

Before December 2009, the KSOU had centres at Gulbarga, Davangere, Dharwad, Mangalore, Bangalore and Shimoga. Thereafter, 15 centres have been established and 10 RDs were recruited in July 2010 for a salary of Rs 20,000, for a period of six months on contract basis. They were given extension without issuing advertisements for candidates to apply for the posts.

In November 2012, the KSOU advertised for the posts, but reappointed the same people and increased their salaries, despite 120 people applying for the posts.

The KSOU recruited RDs in September and November, 2012 and on January 15, 2013. The RDs were given extension till further orders on November 21, 2012 and their salaries were fixed with a basic of 36,200 on November 28, 2012.

Interestingly, the State government, in a letter dated September 21, 2012, stayed the recruitments stating that no recruitments or major policy decisions could be made during the last six months of the V-C's tenure. The letter, written by the Higher Education principal secretary to the KSOU, highlighted that the tenure of the V-C ends on December 10, 2012. “As such, the recruitment notifications cited by the KSOU in the references have been stayed,” the letter said. The KSOU had sought to recruit 10 RDs, two non-teaching staff and 48 teaching staff.

Age norm violation

Of the 14 RDs appointed by the KSOU, five were not eligible to apply. While the upper age limit is 38, five of them above 40 years (one of them a retired professor) were recruited. They are: B C Mahabaleshwarappa (59, Davangere); K Nandakumari (44, Mandya); B Basavaraju (44, Chamarajanagar); Ananth L Zandekar (43, Dharwad); Sangamesh Hiremath (41, Gulbarga). Mahabaleshwarappa had resigned on April 18, 2011, and the KSOU had accepted it. The varsity re-appointed him on July 5, 2011 on a contract basis, for a “temporary period”. He continues to serve as RD, Dharwad. When contacted, Rangappa said he had “amended” KSOU statutes, after seeking opinion from legal experts.

“I effected the amendments and then made these recruitments. I have abided by the Act. I am not bound to take the concurrence of the State government, I had the powers. I was only answerable to the Chancellor. The recruitments made are not permanent. Their salaries were increased to better their (RDs) livelihood. There is no age limit for recruitments. So, there’s no violation. I hired a retired professor because he had more experience,” he added.

However, as per the KSOU statute, contract appointments are subject to approval of both the government and the Chancellor.

Further, short term appointments (six months) can be restored, only if there is delay in filling up posts by regular recruitment and in exigencies. Section 22 of the KSOU Act, 1992, says that the Board of Management cannot create posts without the concurrence of the State government.

Minister promises action

Higher Education Minister R V Deshpande, when contacted, told Deccan Herald that all universities are bound to seek concurrence of the State government and nobody has the right to change the statutes to suit their plans.

The government would not like to interfere in the day-to-day affairs of the varsities, but we want to make sure that there’s transparency and accountability. Nobody can deny that. No major decisions, including recruitments, can be made during the tenure ending period of the vice-chancellor. We have received several complaints pertaining to KSOU.
The government will inquire into all these matters and initiate suitable action.