V-C stands by arrested panel member with ‘clean past’

Amid questions being raised on the appointment of Rajendra Pandit on the three-member fact-finding committee, which probed the alleged re-evaluation scam, University of Pune Vice-Chancellor W N Gade on Sunday defended the move citing Pandit's "clean past".

Pandit, an assistant registrar with the examination department, was arrested by the Chatuhshrungi police for his alleged involvement in the conspiracy in fraudulently increasing the marks of some students after re-evaluation of their answersheets in return of money. The fact that Pandit, who was reportedly involved in the re-evaluation process, was chosen to be part of the fact-finding committee constituted by the university administration to probe the alleged irregularities has raised eyebrows. Several academicians said his appointment could be a result of pressure from higher officials involved in the scam at some level to mislead and subvert the probe.

"It would be naïve to believe that the administration did not have any idea or suspicion about his role in the irregularities. His appointment could have been an attempt to divert the probe," said a senate member who did not wish to be named.

Sharad Awasthi, the retired Assistant Commissioner of Police who headed the committee, said: "It was the university's job to appoint members for the committee. Who am I to go into the credentials of the other members of the committee?"

Gade, however, denied that there was any pressure on him to appoint Pandit on the probe panel.

"We appointed him so that the committee gets easy access to the documents. His responsibility was to provide necessary documents to the committee. Never did we have any suspicion about him as his past record is absolutely clear," said Gade.

The V-C said he was cautious while constituting the probe panel and had taken a deliberate decision to keep officials involved in the re-evaluation process out of the committee.

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