Pune: Sleuths from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) are conducting searches at the National Defence Academy (NDA), Khadakwasla, in connection with irregularities in the appointment of various teaching faculties. Unknown officials of the Headquarters Integrated Defence Staff (IDS), Ministry of Defence (MoD), New Delhi and Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), New Delhi, are also booked in the case.
An FIR in this regard was registered on May 8 but it was kept under wraps as President Ram Nath Kovind was coming to review the passing out parade (POP) of 134th course on May 30.
The Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) of the CBI has registered the case against NDA Principal Om Prakash Shukla, professor (political science) Dr Jagmohan Meher, assistant professor (chemistry) Dr Vanita Puri, assistant professor (mathematics) Dr Rajeev Bansal, head of department (Chemistry) Maheshwar Roy, other unknown faculty members of NDA, and other unknown officials of HQ IDS and UPSC.
An officer said, “Searches are being conducted at the premises including office/ residences of accused persons at Pune.”
The case has been registered for offences under 120B (criminal conspiracy), 420 (cheating), 465 (forgery), 471 (using forged document as genuine) of the IPC and relevant sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The officials said that in May 2017, the CBI had began the preliminary enquiry alleging that during 2006 to 2015, 13 teaching faculties of NDA, who were not eligible for different posts like professor, associate professor and reader, in connivance with unknown officers/officials of UPSC and HQ-IDS, and others, got selected on the basis of false documents and false information. On the basis of the findings of the said enquiry, the FIR is registered.
Officials said that the enquiry revealed that during 2007-08 and 2012-13, Dr Shukla, the then professor (economics), NDA, who is presently posted as principal of NDA; Dr Meher, Dr Puri, Dr Bansal, and Dr Roy, and other unknown faculty members entered into criminal conspiracy with unknown officials of UPSC, New Delhi and unknown officials of HQ-IDS, New Delhi and in pursuance thereof got selected and appointed on different posts without possessing mandatory teaching/research experience as prescribed by UPSC and as required by MoD, on the basis of forged certificates indicating their services experience and teaching experience and exaggerated Academic Performance Indicator (API) score.
NDA faculty selection procedure
As per the FIR, the faculty members of NDA are appointed by MoD on the recommendations made by the UPSC, which functions as the selection authority. The UPSC conducts preliminary scrutiny of the applications received and shortlists the candidates on the basis of their experience and API scores. Thereafter, UPSC conducts the interview of the candidates and makes the recommendation to the MoD for the appointment of the selected candidates for the respective posts after verification of the concerned documents like degree/diploma/experience certificates, etc., by the MoD. The MoD gets these documents verified by the HQ, IDS. For the purpose of recruitment to the posts of 'reader', 'associate professor', 'professor' and 'principal' in NDA, the recruitment rules framed by MoD vide various statutory recruitment orders (SROs) issued from time to time are applicable. Before June 2011, the eligibility criteria for recruitment for the different posts of faculty members of NDA included only educational qualification and teaching/research experience. After framing of SRO 49 dated 16.06.2011, in addition to the aforesaid criteria, MoD also introduced one more criterion of academic performance indicator (API) score. The API score is calculated on the basis of research publications, presentation of papers in seminars, training courses attended etc.
'Ineligible' NDA principal for seven years
Preliminary enquiry revealed that in pursuance of the criminal conspiracy, Dr Shukla falsely claimed exaggerated experience of teaching and research in his applications to UPSC for the post of professor (economics) in NDA in the year 2007 and for the post of principal in NDA in the year 2011, though he was not possessing the required teaching/research experience for claiming such appointments and as such was not eligible for the said appointments in NDA. In furtherance of the said criminal conspiracy, the false and exaggerated teaching/research experience claimed by Dr Shukla was not verified by the officials of HQ(IDS), before appointing him for the above posts.
How professors inflated their experience, qualifications
Dr Jagmohan Meher - Falsely claimed incorrect and exaggerated API scores in his application to UPSC for the post of a professor (political science) in NDA in 2012. The exaggerated API score sheet of Dr Meher was certified and forwarded to UPSC by Dr Shukla, Principal, NDA. Further, in pursuance of the said criminal conspiracy, the API scores claimed by Dr Meher were not verified by the officials of UPSC before shortlisting him for an interview and recommending for his appointment to MoD.
Dr Vanita Puri - Falsely claimed incorrect and exaggerated API scores in her application to UPSC for the post of associate professor (chemistry) in NDA in 2012. Her API score sheet was certified and forwarded to UPSC by Dr Roy, HoD (chemistry), NDA and Dr Shukla, Principal, NDA. Further, her API scores were not verified by the officials of UPSC before shortlisting her for the interview and recommending for her appointment to MoD.
Dr Rajeev Bansal - Falsely claimed incorrect and exaggerated API scores in his application to UPSC for the post of associate professor (mathematics) in NDA in 2012. In furtherance of the said criminal conspiracy, the exaggerated API score sheet of Dr Meher was certified and forwarded to UPSC by Dr Shukla. Further, in pursuance of the said criminal conspiracy, the false and exaggerated API scores claimed by Dr Bansal were not verified by the officials of UPSC before shortlisting him for an interview and recommending for his appointment to MoD.
What NDA has to say...
“NDA was apprised of the allegations by the CBI team on their arrival this morning (Wednesday). They had, with them, relevant documents authorising the procedure for necessary investigation. It is clarified that the issue related to allegations of submission of inappropriate documentation by some academic faculty members at the time of their selection and appointment to NDA by the UPSC. Necessary actions are at hand and due procedures will follow," NDA statement reads.