KU sends its watchdog journalism department to dogs- Part—1

SRINAGAR: In a clear violation of rules and misuse of official authority, the Vice-Chancellor, Kashmir University recommended, and got approved, a high ranking illegal appointment for heading a department at the varsity a year ago. What is more this ‘appointment’ was made against a nonexistent position for a nonexistent designation. This has been revealed in a partial response by KU to an RTI application
This illegal appointment was made in March 2013 at the state’s premier media training institute Media Education Research Centre (MERC) at KU. The response to the RTI application reveals even more incriminating details.
The VC Prof Talat Ahmad recommended this appointment to the state’s highest constitutional authority, the Governor, who is also the Chancellor of KU, and got him to sign on this illegal appointment. This, KU insiders said, amounts to misleading the Governor in a case that involves probity, breach of guidelines, overstepping of authority and possible legal and administrative consequences.
While KU’s response to this RTI says this appointment was “approved by the Chancellor on the recommendation of the VC,” a separate RTI filed at the Raj Bhawan seeking information about the same appointment evoked no response from there. Interestingly, the Governor’s office washed its hands off the matter by directing this RTI application to the KU for answering it as if to suggest the Governor’s office had no knowledge about this appointment.
In March 2013, the KU issued an order of appointment of one Faruq Masudi as ‘Coordinator’ of MERC after Prof S Mufeed relinquished the headship of MERC following his appointment as head of KU’s Business School.
The University Act, statutes and UGC guidelines do not confer any such powers on the Chancellor or VC for making such a high ranking appointment under the circumstances under which it was made and that too of a KU outsider and a non-academician to an academic position.
Masudi’s appointment, made in a secretive manner, was a surprise for many as he is a complete outsider to the KU and a television freelance producer.
The position of headship of MERC was neither put to any advertisement nor was any interview conducted for it. This much the KU’s RTI response admits, although it goes silent on many queries for which the RTI application had sought information.
In yet another serious breach, statutes were not only bent but in a way created to facilitate Masudi’s illegal appointment. The title of ‘Head of Department (HOD)’ of the Centre was replaced with ‘Coordinator’ and Masudi’s appointment order was issued in that name. MERC has no position of this designation.
The University’s response to the RTI says the nomenclature of the Centre from HOD to Coordinator has not been changed. But in effect it stands changed as Masudi has been conducting all the regular business of an HOD.
Any abrupt switchover from the title ‘HOD’ to ‘Coordinator’ is nowhere in the University’s statutes and its rule book of which the VC is supposed to be the guardian. This changeover, sources in the University said, was done as Masudi couldn’t have been appointed as HOD for which rich academic, research and administrative experience is a UGC requirement as well as mandatory under KU’s own statutes. And for heading an academic department the person has to be either a professor or an associate professor.
KU authorities wouldn’t say whether the Coordinator has the same powers as the HOD or is it a promoted or demoted position. The University’s response to the RTI application is also silent on this.
For any change in the title of headship of a department the proposal has to come from the department itself with valid reasons. This has to be approved by the statutory bodies of the University and the powers and duties of the changed title have to be clearly spelt out. None of this was followed in this case.
The RTI application had sought other details on the procedure followed in Masudi’s ‘appointment’ as ‘Coordinator’ MERC but the University has given no response. This is for the obvious reason that not only was the ‘appointment’ made in grave breach of set procedures but also Masudi lacks the qualification to head an academic department.
Masudi’s bio data reveals no research or academic experience. He doesn’t even possess any administrative experience of any serious consequence. Except for a feature film and some television serials his CV is pretty pedestrian and in no way justifies his appointment as the head of MERC save his age of 63 years.
Masudi’s recent serial with Doordarshan Urdu was disapproved by the channel and he was directed to reshoot major portions of the project. He is already in trouble with his financiers because of his failed production business. A few years ago he raised a loan of Rs two and half crores from the JK Bank for his film production business. Sources in JK Bank disclosed that he couldn’t execute the project resulting in its failure and Masudi has since run into debt with the bank. These sources also revealed that he has applied for waiving off his debt of Rs 1. 18 crore citing bankruptcy.
The RTI response reveals yet another damning detail about this illegal appointment. Masudi is given a hefty salary of Rs 80,000 a month which the RTI says was fixed by the VC. This has caused the University a loss of Rs 9.60 lakh a year. The RTI response further reveals that Masudi’s salary is paid from the non-lapsable salary saving fund of the Centre.