The chaos surrounding the delay in releasing the results of over 4 lakh Mumbai University students is far from over. Firstpost accessed the minutes of the 28 April meeting of the Management Council, which showed that three out of four representatives had opposed Vice-Chancellor Sanjay Deshmukh's idea of introducing online evaluation system for every stream at the same time. Instead, the representatives — Joint Secretary Siddharth Kharat, Director of Higher Education Rohidas Kale and Director of Technical Education Subhash Mahajan — while agreeing to the idea in spirit, had advised Deshmukh to implement the plan in a phased manner. The vice-chancellor is the fourth member of the council.
The Management Council should have 22 members including two permanent invitees. However, it has only four members as of now.
However, confident that the system can be implemented across various streams offered by the university, Deshmukh overruled the suggestion of the representatives. To bolster his argument, the vice-chancellor added that the online assessment system was successfully being used in evaluating papers in technical courses. The 28 April meeting also decided the terms of the contract, which was awarded to MeritTrac, a Mumbai-based assessment and testing solutions company for a period of three years. As per the contract, the company would be paid Rs 23.50 for evaluating each paper.
But after the vice-chancellor missed the 31 July deadline given by Governor C Vidyasagar Rao, the knives were out for Deshmukh.
A senior official told Firstpost, " We feel that enough time was given to Deshmukh. During a 28 April meeting too, we had opposed the move to implement in a hurry. We brought this issue to his notice in June too, yet no corrective measures were taken. We are serious about our students' future but the vice-chancellor is enjoying his foreign tour without the Chancellor's permission."
After missing his 31 July deadline, Rao, who is also the Chancellor of Mumbai University, issued a show cause notice to Deshmukh over his failure to release the results of over 4.77 lakh students. It was for the first time Mumbai University's 150 year history that a vice-chancellor had received such a flak. But the show cause notice seemed to have had no effect over Deshmukh as more than 60,000 students are yet to receive their results.
Deshmukh held his first meeting with the chancellor and other senior officials on 4 July. However, senior officials said that even during the meeting he failed to show any intent of speeding the evaluation process.
The vice-chancellor also violated Section 11 (14) and 89 of the Maharashtra Public Universities Act as he did not submit a report to the chancellor, stating his failure to announce results before the deadline. Instead, he applied for leave "for personal reasons" on 9 August. Rao, then appointed Shivaji University Vice-Chancellor Devanand Shinde as acting vice-chancellor of Mumbai University with immediate effect.
There is pressure on Deshmukh to step down once for all. "The governor has given several opportunities for him to step down with dignity. But he refuses to do so," said a senior cabinet minister. Former vice-chancellor Bhalchandra Mungekar too has asked for Deshmukh's resignation. In the last one month, student wings of every major political party in Maharashtra have sought the resignation of Deshmukh.
After missing the 31 July deadline, Deshmukh promised to release all results by 5 August, but he reneged upon this too. Now the new deadline given by the university is 15 August.
Clearly, the vice-chancellor has failed as an administrator. But he missed no opportunity to enjoy foreign jaunts on university's money. However, Deshmukh has repeatedly said that he never utilised university funds for any of his trips.
In last two years, Deshmukh undertook eight foreign trips. He visited several Israeli universities in September 2015, attended the BRICS Global Universities Summit at Moscow in October 2015, and travelled to China, Germany and South Korea last year. Currently, the vice-chancellor is in Russia and will be on a lecture tour to Nepal, while lakhs of students are staring at an uncertain future.
Rao seems to be the last hope for students now. According to government officials, he has taken strong exception to his Nepal lecture tour, urging him to return home to address the critical issue, which is also affecting scores of students who wish to join foreign universities for further studies.
Updated Date: Aug 12, 2017 20:40 PM