Govt.’s audit report silent on her degree equivalence, Ph.D, poor performance
SRINAGAR, Oct 20: A senior employee of the Jammu and Kashmir Entrepreneurship Development Institute (JKEDI) continues to hold a faculty position even as the J&K High Court has declared her post graduate degree as ‘Not Equivalent’ to Masters in Business Administration (MBA), the qualification required for the post she was appointed for, initially.
According to the official documents, a copy of which lies with the Kashmir Despatch, the employee, Naila Khanday managed to get appointed as Assistant Faculty in JKEDI even as she was not eligible for the post in the year 2005.
Naila, who claims to be one of the ‘founding members’ of JKEDI has a Masters Degree in Personnel Management (MPM) and applied for a post of Assistant Faculty in response to an advertisement notice issued by the institute in the year 2005. The requisite qualification for the post of Assistant Faculty as per the institute rules is Masters Degree in Business Management/Administration as the appointee was supposed to teach and train the young aspirants for basic business management.
JKEDI is a training institute mandated to teach basic business management to the unemployed youth of Jammu and Kashmir through its specially designed training programs. However, the personnel management is broadly related to overseeing the activities of employees such as staffing, payments, other operations, discipline/administration and it is just like supervising the staff and their functions.
According to a J&K High Court judgment, Islamic University of Science and Technology (IUST) in the year 2007 issued an advertisement notice dated June 30, inviting applications for four lecturers (in pay scale of 8000 -13,000) in Business Studies. The eligibility sought was a Masters degree with at least 55% marks or equivalent GPA with NET/SLET or Ph.D.
Naila, who had to her credit a Masters Degree in the discipline of Personnel Management, applied for the post of lecturer in Business Studies. Her application was entertained and she was interviewed also. However, she did not figure in the final selection list of the IUST.
In response she filed a writ petition bearing SWP No. 1201/2007. In the court, she pleaded that on the strength of her performance in the interview and as per her information she had been figuring in the selection list formulated for appointment against the lecturer post at serial number 2.
However, the varsity issued the selection list after excluding her name from it. The High Court judgment reads that Naila pleaded for an order to quash appointment order bearing No. 110 (Est) of 2007 dated 30.10.2007 issued by IUST in favour of the selected candidate to be issued in her favour and against the respondents (other appointee/s). She had also pleaded before the court that appointing other eligible candidates (appointees) for the post of Lecturer in Business Studies in the IUST, was totally arbitrary and invidiously discriminatory and as such violated Constitutional guarantees in Articles 14 and 16.
The petitioner had also sought an order commanding the respondents (mainly IUST) to give her treatment in the matter of appointment to the post of Lecturer in the Discipline of Business Studies in IUST.
However, the Court dismissed her writ petition, following which she appealed before the Division Bench of the High Court.
The Division Bench judgment reads, “The factual matrix of the controversy makes apparent the issues, one as to whether the qualification at the credit of appellant is equivalent to the one sought for by the University? And the other as to whether the University was competent in judging the equivalence of the degree at the credit of appellant?”
Before the division bench, Naila’s counsel had argued that she possessed the qualification equivalent to the requisite degree and in this respect he referred to a communication addressed to the All India Council for Technical Education, New Delhi, by Bharati Vidyapeeth University Institute of Management and Research, New Delhi.
The only stance of the IUST in support of exclusion of Naila from selection was that the qualification possessed by her is neither the one sought for nor even equivalent to that. The University in its reply said that to ascertain as to whether the degree of Masters obtained in the discipline of Personnel Management is equivalent to the degree of Masters in the discipline of Business Administration, an Equivalence Committee was constituted.
This Committee held the corresponding degrees to be ‘not equivalent’. The court observed that the academic affairs are best left to be decided by the experts of the field and the Court or any other body has no domain to sit as an untutored expert.
The court also observed that she cannot find any help from the communication of Bharati Vidyapeeth University Institute of Management and Research, placed on record, for, it does not anywhere say that the degree at the credit of Naila Khanday is equivalent to the one sought for by the IUST.
The Court said that it was apt to mention the last paragraph of the said communication which read, “You are requested to kindly consider the proposal and grant the equivalence of Master of Personnel Management Program with Master of Business Administration-HR.”
As per the judgment the perusal of the said communication made it clear that parity between the two degrees is being requested for from the Competent Authority in the month of December, 2007, when in comparison the selection process for the post in question began in June-July, 2007.
Therefore, as on the date of filing of application in response to the Advertisement Notice read with the Addendum, the petitioner was, as per her own showing, ineligible for the post. This communication also makes it clear that the degree at the credit of Naila and the degree of Masters in Business Administration-HR are neither treated equivalent by the University which has issued the qualification certificate to her, nor is it certified to be so by the Competent Authority. Therefore, the IUST has rightly examined the papers of Naila and dropped her from the selection list. Ultimately, the court dismissed her petition.
However, amidst all this, Naila continued with her job at JKEDI as Assistant Faculty appointed vide No. EDI-07 of 2005 dated 25-05-2005 against the same personnel management degree which was declared ‘non-equivalent’ by the High Court. How come her personnel management degree was entertained for a faculty (teaching) position at JKEDI is a question that remains unanswered till date even as the official in question has now got elevated to the position of Associate Senior Trainer at JKEDI and is currently placed as In-charge Centre for Women Entrepreneurship (CWE), Kashmir.
Also, the documents reveal that before she was appointed as Assistant Faculty at JKEDI in the year 2005, Naila had already enrolled for a full-time (regular) Ph.D. program through the University of Kashmir. Though the institute only allowed her to complete her four-month residency period, how she completed her full Ph.D program from 2004-2009, even after getting appointed in the government service is another question that needs an answer, though this time from the Kashmir University authorities as well.
Also, if the IUST Awantipora found her MPM degree as ‘non-equivalent’ for a lecturer post, what made her to continue to be a faculty at JKEDI and teach, despite the High Court’s endorsement of the same?.
Interestingly, Naila has been served an explanation seeking notice by JKEDI management in the year 2008 vide No. JKEDI/2003/05/II/1135 Dated 06-06-2008 after she refused to perform duties for the institute in district Kupwara. Following this, a charge sheet was also filed against her for providing an ‘unsatisfactory’ explanation. To this, Naila finally submitted an apology letter to the JKEDI management so as to avoid action under rules.
The story does not end here. Naila’s performance at EDI is evident from her service records. Her ‘performance’ resulted in forfeiture of her two annual increments and it remains so till date. Of late, the official has been claiming herself as a ‘founding member’ of the institute in her complaints and representations (copies lying with KD) she has been making to the J&K Chief Secretary’s office, Commissioner Secretary Industries and Commerce and the JKEDI Director as well.
Sources told Kashmir Despatch that there has been no mention of Naila’s appointment in the recently submitted report of the Special Audit of JKEDI conducted by the Directorate of Audit & Inspections, J&K.
This, the sources said, puts a question mark on the genuineness of the audit report submitted to the Financial Commissioner for necessary action. It has made the already shoddy things about her more fishy and has given rise to questions like, wasn’t her personal file and service records checked by the audit team who camped at JKEDI Pampore campus for more than one month when they even questioned the salaries of contractual and scheme-based employees?
If her file was checked by the auditors, why didn’t it catch their eye as how she has been appointed and how she could pursue Ph.D and perform her duties at JKEDI simultaneously for four years and draw salary from the State exchequer?
Talking to Kashmir Despatch over phone, Naila claimed to have completed the entire residency period. “I completed my Ph.D in the year 2009. I availed leave without pay as well during my research. I have an equivalence certificate from AICTE,” she said. Asked whether she has submitted the equivalence certificate at JKEDI in support of her degree she said, “Why are you asking me this now? These things are not discussed on the phone, this is unethical journalism. I know what is going on and why people have been targeted.”
Executive Director, JKEDI, G. M. Dar while talking to Kashmir Despatch said, “It is a matter of checking and verifying the records. It is for the first time that this has been brought to my knowledge so I can’t say anything exactly till I see her file and other documents to check on which post she has been recruited, by whom and what was the required qualification.”