Akhilesh Gupta, senior scientist working with the Department of Science and Technology has been appointed as a secretary by the University Grants Commission (UGC). The Commission, at a meeting on October 22, also decided to remove earlier acting secretary Niloufer Kazmi, also an applicant for the secretary’s post. Kazmi has leveled charges of corruption and discrimination against UGC chairman Ved Prakash. The human resource development (HRD) ministry has found these allegations baseless. The apex higher education regulator which also completely funds country’s 40 central universities and partially supports many state universities and public and private colleges has worked without a full-time secretary for over six years.
Kazmi and Gupta were earlier shortlisted for the post of full-fledged secretary after an initial screening process. The selection team finally chose Gupta. Post that, Kazmi wrote to the HRD ministry accusing Prakash of forcing her into helping him cover up corruption. Prakash helped his wife gain admission into a PhD programme at Jamia Hardard and then a job as a university registrar, though she was unqualified for both, Kazmi alleged.
in her complaint to the National Commission on Minorities (NCM) that the UGC had violated norms in not picking a minority community member on the selection panel that had chosen Gupta. Kazmi has also approached the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT). Following which, UGC set up a fresh selection panel including former central information commissioner MM Ansari to conduct the search for a secretary again.
The new UGC selection panel l interviewed candidates including Kazmi and once again picked Gupta. It recommended Najma Akhtar, a professor at the National University for Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA), as a second back up candidate for the UGC to consider. The UGC plans to officially appoint Gupta once the CAT decides on Kazmi’s case, expected to come up for hearing on October 30.