Friday, October 23, 2020

India: University Vice-Chancellor arrested for involvement in bribery scheme

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The Anti-Corruption Bureau in Rajasthan has arrested the Vice-Chancellor of the Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati University in Ajmer, Prof. Ram Pal Singh, and two others in a bribery case.

The VC had allegedly demanded a hefty bribe for allotment of additional seats and an examination centre from a private college affiliated to the university in Nagaur through middlemen Ranjit Singh and Mahipal Singh.

The ACB arrested the trio on Monday evening when it caught Ranjit red-handed taking Rs 2.2 lakh in cash at the VC’s official residence. Shockingly, middleman Ranjit Singh even had a room as his office in the VC secretariat without any locus standi.

Ironically, VC Ram Pal Singh had been hosting a national Webinar on the ‘New Education Policy’ in which President Ramnath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had participated on Monday. The case has sent shock waves through the academic world in Rajasthan and exposed the deep rot prevailing in government universities.

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The nexus was exposed by the ACB through a private college in Bhilwara which had sought affiliation in December 2018. In May 2020, the university after necessary inspections and formalities moved the case for granting temporary affiliation. Then, Ranjit Singh, the Vice-Chancellor’s alleged middleman, approached the college owner SK Bansal for a bribe of Rs 2 lakh and even managed to arrange his meeting with the VC.

College owner Bansal then complained to the ACB which put the VC and his confidante Ranjit on surveillance. Eventually, the surveillance led the ACB to another bribery case involving a private College in Nagaur. On being tipped off about the deal, the ACB on Monday caught Ranjit red-handed taking Rs 2.2 lakh in cash and Rs 80 thousand through Google Pay from Mahipal Singh of the college in Nagaur at the VC’s residence.

The DG of ACB, M N Dinesh talking to media in Ajmer on Tuesday said, “the bribe was being taken at the residence of the Vice-Chancellor and that’s why he has been arrested. There was verification about the bribe complaint that was made to ACB three months ago. Through electronic surveillance, we have gathered a lot of evidence against the three accused. That is also being corroborated by their diaries and mobiles. We are questioning all of them.”

ACB officials said the file on the case for which bribe was being taken was found on the table of the VC. The ACB has twice searched the VC’s office and has confiscated several other files and documents. The ACB has also seized the mobile and laptops of not only the VC but also his driver and security guards along with those of Ranjeet.

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Prof Ram Pal Singh was appointed as the VC of the MCD University of Ajmer in October 2018 by the former BJP government in Rajasthan. He was appointed just a few hours before the Election Commission announced the dates for Assembly polls. Prior to joining Ajmer University, Prof Singh had even worked as VC of JNV University in Jodhpur after being appointed by Kalyan Singh, the then Governor of Rajasthan.

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