Inquiry clears her but Leftist Allahabad University student head faces exit

              While the report concludes that Singh’s seat should have gone to a reserved candidate, it makes clear that the “mistake” was committed by university staff involved in the selection process.. The inquiry against Richa Singh, the first woman to head the central university’s students’ union, was ordered by the VC last month.

The Allahabad University students’ union president whose protests stopped BJP MP Yogi Adityanath from visiting the campus last year is now the subject of an internal inquiry — on the validity of her admission in 2013-14 for no fault of hers — that could lead to her expulsion.

The inquiry against Richa Singh, the first woman to head the central university’s students’ union, was ordered by the vice-chancellor Professor R L Hangloo last month following a complaint by a rival that she was granted admission as a research scholar to a seat earmarked for a candidate from the reserved category.

While the report concludes that Singh’s seat — one of two available that year for a PhD in Globalisation and Development Studies at the Faculty of Arts — should have gone to a reserved candidate, it makes clear that the “mistake” was committed by university staff involved in the selection process.

V-C Hangloo is expected to take a decision on the report’s findings soon. According to a university official, if the V-C decides to scrap one of the two admissions, Richa would lose her seat because she was placed at second position on merit.

Incidentally, the complainant, Rajneesh Kumar, an unsucessful rival candidate in the union elections, also stated in a separate complaint that Singh was associated with Left organisations and did not follow hostel rules. Kumar had contested last year’s polls for the post of president on behalf of the independent Pratiyogi Chhatra Morcha.

When contacted, Singh alleged that the inquiry was “politically motivated” and conducted “to harass” her because she had questioned certain appointments made by the V-C, and opposed the visit of Adityanath.

Singh, who had won the elections as an independent with support from the ruling Samajwadi Party’s Samajwadi Chhattra Sabha, was targeted by ABVP leaders on campus for opposing Adityanath’s visit for the union inauguration.

“This is an attempt to suppress the voices of students and one can understand what Rohith Vemula (the Dalit research scholar who committed suicide in Hyderabad) would have felt before taking the extreme step,” said Singh, who had recently addressed students on the JNU campus following the arrest of JNU students’ union president Kanhaiya Kumar.

In January, the university cancelled permission for a seminar that she had organised on campus after ABVP members protested her decision to invite Siddharth Varadarajan, former editor of The Hindu, as chief guest.

When contacted, Faculty of Arts dean Prof A Satyanarayan, who was asked by the V-C on February 26 to probe the complaint regarding Richa’s admission, confirmed that he had submitted his report on Thursday.

Satyanarayan told The Indian Express that the university’s legal advisor was of the view that in case of just two seats being available, both should be given to general category students, according to the university’s “roster principle of reservation”.

However, he added that as per university norms, the “roster principle of reservation” is meant only for promotions and direct recruitment to employment — not in admission of students.

“I took opinion from Hyderabad University, Banaras Hindu University (BHU) and Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), too. In all these universities, if there are two seats only for research scholar admission, one is allotted to a reserved category student and the other to one from the general category. I have sent my report to the vice-chancellor with the view that in case there are two seats available, one should be allotted to general category and the other to reserved category,” Satyanarayan said.

“A mistake has been done by university staff in admission. My opinion is that such mistakes should not be repeated in future,” he said.

Satyanarayan said that department coordinator, too, had granted admission to Richa after obtaining legal advice and that the “fault was from the side of the persons involved in the selection process”.

University spokesperson Prof K N Uttam denied allegations of harassment levelled by Richa against the administration. “When she filed a complaint against the appointment of the V-C’s Officer on Special Duty (OSD), an inquiry committee was formed. Now when an inquiry is being done on her admission on the complaint of another student, she should not call it harassment. The university cannot run according to her,” he said.

Professor Uttam said that the V-C would take a decision “after going through the report submitted by inquiry panel”.

When contacted, the complainant Kumar said, “There were only two seats for admission in PhD. One seat was filled by a general category candidate but Richa was given admission on second seat that was supposed to be allotted to an OBC student.”

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