Tamil Nadu

Certain irregularities and procedural lapses occurred at Anna University under Surappa: inquiry panel

M.K. Surappa argued that the very initiation of the inquiry was wrong. File   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

The Tamil Nadu Government on Friday informed the Madras High Court that it had received a report from a Commission of Inquiry, constituted during the AIADMK government, to probe the charges of corruption, malpractice, financial irregularities and irregularities in appointments at Anna University when M.K. Surappa was the Vice-Chancellor.

Appearing before Justice V. Parthiban, Advocate-General R. Shunmugasundaram said the commission, headed by the retired High Court judge, P. Kalaiyarasan, had completed its probe and submitted a report. “Certain irregularities and procedural lapses have been found by the commission on the basis of evidence placed before it, and now the government has to act on it,” he said.

The submissions were made at the hearing of a petition filed by Mr. Surappa in February this year to quash a Government Order of November 11, 2020, constituting the commission. Subsequently, he demitted office on April 11 this year on completion of his three-year tenure, but the commission continued its inquiry.

When the matter came up on Friday, Mr. Shunmugasundaram said the case had become infructuous since the commission had wound up its proceedings and submitted a report. Now, it was for the government to take the proceedings forward. However, it was argued on behalf of Mr. Surappa that the very initiation of the inquiry was wrong and that the court must decide its validity.

When the former Vice-Chancellor’s academic and other credentials were highlighted to underscore that he had enjoyed an impeccable track record, the Advocate-General intervened to state: “Let us not glorify him. There is a finding given by a former judge of this court and those findings are based on evidence.”

After hearing both sides and finding that the Government was not inclined to drop the proceedings and instead wanted to take the inquiry to its logical conclusion, the judge directed the Government to produce a copy of the report and file a detailed counter-affidavit by December 15.

In his affidavit, Mr. Surappa had said he undertook major development work after assuming charge in April 2018. However, his opposition to the then government’s decision to pass all engineering students without conducting examinations for the “arrears” papers on account of COVID-19 and his efforts to obtain the Institute of Eminence (IoE) status to the university had triggered a controversy.

He claimed to have taken steps for obtaining the IoE status in June 2020 because it would bring the university a grant of ₹1,000 crore over five years, and that money could be spent on research. Also, the status would give more autonomy to the university and the freedom to determine fees, course structure and governance.

The IoE status could have been obtained with a condition that the university continue to follow the State Government’s 69% reservation policy in admission and not the Union Government’s policy which capped the quota at 49.5%. Nevertheless, the move triggered a huge row since reservation was an important subject of electoral politics and because the Government did not want its control over the university to be reduced, he said.


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Printable version | Jan 18, 2022 4:38:49 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/certain-irregularities-and-procedural-lapses-occurred-at-anna-university-under-surappa-inquiry-panel/article37711933.ece

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