Tribhuvan University officials embroiled in yet another power abuse scandalA number of joint professors register complaint at CIAA and TU appeal commission
Two officials of the Tribhuvan University Service Commission have been accused in yet another power abuse scandal, this time for promoting less qualified individuals to the post of professors.
Chaitanya Sharma, the chairman of the commission, and Parshuram Koirala, the administrative chief of the commission, both of whom have been suspended recently for manipulating the scores of job entrance tests to hire the kin of the university officials, are now facing the charge of meddling in the promotion process.
Several associate professors have filed a complaint at the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority, claiming that Sharma and Koirala worked in cahoots with Dilliram Upreti, the university registrar, and Suman Kharel, deputy professor of the university’s Rural Development Department, to promote less qualified candidates to the post of professors.
The complaint, recorded at the anti-graft body around three weeks ago, mentions that Sharma, Upreti, Koirala and Kharel were part of a set-up designed to promote certain associate professors, including Sharma’s distant nephew Mahendra Prasad Sharma and Registrar Upreti.
To avoid conflict of interest, the Tribhuvan University Internal Working Procedure bars those university officials from participating in the promotion evaluation process whose relatives happen to be on the promotion list.
Sharma was reportedly part of the panel that interviewed Mahendra Prasad, a promotion candidate from the Central Department of Population Studies.
Sharma has justified his participation in the interview panel by saying that he and Mahendra Prasad are not related by blood.
“He (Mahendra) happens to be my distant nephew. So interviewing him cannot be considered a conflict of interest,” Sharma told the Post.
Mahendra Prasad Sharma, who holds an MPhil degree, was promoted over several deserving candidates holding PhD degrees.
According to the complaint received by the CIAA, candidates with low academic qualifications and comparatively small bodies of published works were promoted over the candidates who held Phd, had longer work experience, and had published many articles, research papers and books.
Associate Professor Keshav Adhikari told the Post that Mahendra Prasad Sharma was promoted to the post of professor despite the latter being junior to him by 3-4 years in terms of work experience and with lower academic qualifications.
“I think he got the promotion because he was a relative of Chairman Sharma. This has conveyed the message that anybody can become a professor, provided that he or she is a relative of a person who is in power,” Adhikari said.
A candidate can get the maximum score of 25 for academic qualifications, 40 for experience, 21 for writing academic journals and writing books, 4 for performance and 10 for interview out of the total score of 100.
The disgruntled associate professors say some of the candidates were given disproportionately high scores while others were denied the scores they deserved for their published works.
According to them, the scores for academic qualifications and work experience can more or less be measured, but the scores for published works depend on evaluators, and there remains the room for maneuvering.
They strongly feel that they were left behind during the evaluation of books and articles they had published in many domestic and international journals.
The disgruntled associate professors have also filed complaints at the Appeal Commision of the university demanding a review of the decision taken by the Service Commission. The promoted candidates won’t get their promotion letters until the case is resolved.
Gauri Shrestha, associate professor at the Statistics Department of the TU, has filed a review appeal at the Appeal Commission after Basanta Kumar Dhakal, also the president of TU Professor’ Association, got promoted over her.
“I feel my scores should have been more than that of Dhakal’s. Even if he secured full 21 for writing in journals, I have better academic qualifications and longer work experience. Dhakal may have influenced the decision because he is also the president of TU Professors’ Association,” Gauri told the Post.
She expressed surprise that none of the seven candidates with PhD degrees got
promoted. A complaint has also been filed against Tribhuvan University Registrar Dilli Raj Upreti, who was promoted to the post of professor under the faculty of education (Economics).
The dissatisfied associate professors have said that since Upreti is responsible for making rules and implementing them as well as taking decision on vacancy, his participation in the exams should be treated as a clear conflict of interest.
As per the Tribhuvan University Act, registrar is the member secretary of the TU Working Council and the council is responsible for recommending candidates in the vacant seats at the university.
Associate Professor Dilnath Phuyal, who teaches at Mahendra Ratna Campus, Ilam, suspects Upreti’s role in reducing his score.
“I have passed master’s degree in first division and have a PhD degree while Upreti only has a master’s degree which he had passed in second division,” Phuyal said. “He may have more experience, but I should be ahead of him in other parameters.”
Upreti defended his participation as a promotion candidate, arguing that there are no rules and regulations that bar the university registrar from becoming a professor candidate. “Even in civil services, joint secretaries and secretaries make many policies. Are they denied from being candidate for promotion?” he asked.
Although the complaint has been registered with the CIAA, the anti-graft body is less likely to proceed with the investigation.
“The Tribhuvan University has its internal procedure to deal with the complaint regarding the promotion. So the commission may not initiate investigation,” CIAA Spokesperson Pradeep Koirala, told the Post.