Governor and Chief Minister petitioned seeking probe into allegations against him

The newly formed University of Agricultural Sciences in Shimoga is attracting academic attention for all the wrong reasons. Several public figures, including a former Chief Justice of a High Court and a renowned agricultural expert, have urged the Governor and Chief Minister not to elevate the special officer of this university, P.M. Salimath, as its first Vice-Chancellor owing to the controversies surrounding him.

Dr. Salimath held the post of UAS-Dharwad’s Research Director prior to becoming special officer for UAS-Shimoga on November 28, 2011. Normally, special officers go on to become the first vice-chancellors of new universities. However, the group opposed to his elevation plead that he be first cleared of the charges against him.

Rajya Sabha member and the former Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, M. Rama Jois, in his letter to the Chief Minister said that Dr. Salimath faces allegations of “giving wrong information about his date of birth,” and for giving permission to a subordinate to conduct coaching for candidates taking the university entrance exams under the ‘farmers quota.’ For this they were charged a hefty fee, in violation of university rules. Mr. Jois has demanded an inquiry into this.

Kimmane Rathnakar, MLA for Tirthahalli in Shimoga district, has a similar concern. He too has urged the Governor to conduct an inquiry into the age issue, and admission norms violations.

Endorsing their views, the doyen of the country’s agricultural extension services and former Vice-Chancellor of UAS-B, Dwarakinath told The Hindu that the government should not go ahead with elevating Dr. Salimath before it conducted a probe to establish the truth.

“At a time when an agrarian crisis is gripping the country, agricultural universities have the important task of working for the welfare of poor farmers. It is essential to ensure that the head of such an institution is free from controversies,” he said.

The second charge pertains to Dr. Salimath permitting a professor in UAS, Dharwad, to conduct a preparatory course for the university’s entrance exams, charging Rs. 3,000 per candidate who applied for admission to degree courses under the farmers’ quota. Following this, the university suspended the professor for some time. What upset the academicians was that during the inquiry, the professor alleged that he undertook this venture with permission from Dr. Salimath.