As the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) continues its probe into five cases of corruption and bribery registered last month against the top brass of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), the agency has proposed changes in the way AICTE functions.
Going beyond the scope of its investigations which blew the lid off a corruption scandal, the agency has sought to pinpoint systemic deficiencies in the working of the AICTE. The Council’s functioning impinges on the career prospects of thousands of students enrolled in technical and engineering institutes.
While collating information for mounting searches and raids on top officials, the CBI received at least 50 complaints from the public against the Council. These were jointly scrutinised by it and Human Resource Development Ministry officials.
The agency has suggested to the Ministry that the AICTE should enhance its staff strength for carrying out a large number of inspections in a short time and bring about transparency in its functioning.
Established in 1988, the AICTE is a statutory body set up for coordination of the technical education system in the country. It has seven regional offices and nine bureaus. Under its purview come engineering, technical, architecture, town planning, pharmacy, management, applied arts and crafts, hotel management, and catering institutes. It grants approvals after inspecting facilities, infrastructure and capability to conduct these courses.
As a first step, the AICTE should introduce online submission, processing and scrutiny of applications and objections. The CBI said this would enable applicants to track progress online.
Senior CBI officials told The Hindu on Thursday that the stress of the agency’s probe was to shift the focus from individuals to the institution so that the future of students was not affected. “These suggestions were made to the HRD Ministry in the spirit of changing and overhauling the functioning of a regulatory body like AICTE,” sources said.
The CBI suggested that all the details made available by any institute electronically should be accessible to the public for greater transparency. Change of faculty by an institute should be communicated to the AICTE immediately and the details should be available on the website of the institute as well as the AICTE.
Further, the agency, said that a panel of experts of government colleges should be prepared and composition of the expert visiting committee should be randomised.
“Once finalised, the team composition should not be changed without the prior approval of the AICTE and that too only under compelling circumstances,” it said.
The CBI suggested that the expert committee should stay at concerned institutions for at least two to three days for carrying out a thorough inspection.
During its probe and search operations against AICTE Chairman Prof. R.A. Yadav, Member-Secretary Dr. K. Narayan Rao, other senior officials and private persons managing certain colleges, the CBI found several shortcomings.
Land availability and total built-up area of some colleges was less than the laid down norms. There was shortage of faculty members and other infrastructure and some groups obtained AICTE approval for new colleges by showing building and facilities of colleges approved earlier.
Other shortcomings were raising of loans or encashing of joint fixed deposits without prior consent of the AICTE and false reports by the expert committee to favour certain institutions. In some cases factual reports of the expert committee were ignored to grant approval.
Another modus operandi of technical and engineering colleges was to display AICTE approval without mentioning the courses for which the approval was obtained.
“It enabled them to start more courses other than those which had been approved by the AICTE. If the colleges had approval for three courses, they admitted students in two or three other courses for which there was no AICTE approval and did not bother to provide faculty and facilities to the students. The AICTE should have checked this but it did not have adequate manpower,” senior CBI officials said.