Search panel for VTU VC under cloud

Committee comprises members booked in criminal case

A controversy has erupted as academicians have raised concerns about the credibility of some members in the search committee formed to select the next Vice-Chancellor (VC) for Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU).

The search committee is responsible for selecting an appropriate successor to the current VC, based on due academic qualifications. The term of the current VC, Prof H Maheshappa, will end by June 30, 2014. 

S S Mantha, the chairperson of All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), VTU Executive Council member V D Maitri and VTU Dean (Academic) D H Rao are the members of the committee. 

V D Maitri, former principal of PDA College of Engineering, Gulbarga, is one of the 18 people against whom a charge sheet was filed in 2007 for selling a World War II antique aircraft that was gifted to PDA College. 

Illegal deal

An investigation earlier had revealed that the principal and top administrators of the college sold the German Messerschmitt BF109E-1 fighter aircraft, used during Hitler’s regime, for a paltry sum of Rs three lakh while its cost is estimated to be over Rs seven crore. 

The aircraft is said to be a gift by the Royal Air Force (in 1941) to the Nizam of Hyderabad. 

It was placed in the public garden in Gulbarga under the Nizam’s rule and was later shifted to the college premises. 

“How can a person such as Dr V D Maitri, who has bartered government property and has a criminal case registered against him, be part of the search committee for the selection of Vice Chancellor of VTU? For that matter how can even the Chancellor continue him as a member of the Executive Council of VTU?” said Prof Balaveera Reddy, former VC of VTU, speaking to Deccan Herald. 

In the case of D H Rao, academicians pointed out that in spite of several senior professors above him, he was appointed as the Dean, which was against the norms. As per the statutes of the university, only the senior most professor is eligible to be the Dean. 

Reddy added that a person who was not eligible to be the Dean in the first place could not be a part of the search committee. 

Moreover, he was also part of the search committee last year that granted a year’s extension of tenure to VTU VC Maheshappa, whose term had originally come to an end in June 2013. 

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