KSOU move to extend pact with fraudulent firm raises hackles

A fact-finding panel had recommended scrapping the agreement

KSOU move to extend pact with fraudulent firm raises hackles

The Karnataka State Open University (KSOU) has extended its agreement with a “fraudulent” company to handle its admission and examination process, despite bad experiences in the past.

The KSOU had outsourced admission, examination and website management to Institute of Engineering and Management (IEM), Mumbai, for a period of three years. The agreement comes to an end on October 30. In these three years, the varsity incurred losses to the tune of Rs five crore.

The agreement was said to be in violation of the norms, as it was signed at the fag end of former vice chancellor K S Rangappa’s tenure.

Following a series of complaints with regard to faulty/non-issue of marks cards and the economics involved in hiring IEM, the matter was referred to the one-man fact-finding committee headed by Justice K Bhaktavatsala, who inquired into the irregularities in the KSOU. The committee submitted its report to the Governor recently.

Before submitting the report, Bhaktavatsala had written a strongly worded letter to Governor Vajubhai Vala’s office, recommending that immediate action be taken against IEM, owing to “suspicious” nature of the agreement. He has recommended that the agreement be cancelled immediately.

In the letter dated July 17, Bhaktavatsala has highlighted that there was room for fraudulent activities by IEM, as the person who owns it, also runs Sandip Foundation, Mumbai (called SCOPE). Sandip Foundation is one of the many collaborative institutions of KSOU.

“It appears to me that since IEM and the Sandip Foundation belong to the same person - Sandip Kumar Jha - it is possible to commit fraud on the university and furnish incorrect particulars. The said person can also postpone entering details and thereby put off payment to the university. This creates a# strong suspicion that what is going on in the computer wing with the major collaborative institutions is not in the interest of the university.”

“According to the terms of the contract, it is the duty of IEM to train personnel of the varsity. There are no records to show that IEM has discharged this obligation. It is high time that the KSOU puts an end to the agreement, takes over the computer wing so that the fraud committed can be unearthed.”

On October 5, during the Syndicate meeting, the Board of Management (BoM) members, including KSOU vice-chancellor M G Krishnan and University of Mysore VC Rangappa, decided to extend the agreement with IEM.

This, despite BJP MLC Go Madhusudan raising strong objections. Madhusudan told Deccan Herald that after he left the meeting, other members took the decision. “When I objected to the extension, the other members had agreed, but after I saw the minutes of the meeting I got to know that they had changed their decision.”

Madhusudan said that he had lodged a complaint with the Governor and had also written to the registrar of KSOU, regarding the majority decision being tampered with.

He has appealed to the Governor to direct Krishnan to go on leave, to issue directions for dismissal of nomination of Rangappa as member of the BoM, to terminate the appointment of persons working as registrar, dean (academic) and registrar (examination) and appoint suitable State cadre officials to the posts.

When contacted, Krishnan said Madhusudan was very much part of the decision-making process. “I am aware of Bhaktavatsala’s letter. But this decision was taken by the board and not just me. The decision is subject to the Governor’s approval,” he added.

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