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Pension denied to a retired professor

Dr Basanta Kumar still fighting against corruption in Utkal University to get his pension back

Utkal University
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Utkal University

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Mumbai: UNIVERSITIES are often in the news for students' unrest. However, this time, Bhubaneswar-based Utkal University is in the news for different reasons. A retired Placement Officer (Reader) of the university is yet to receive legitimate 6th pay salary fixation, pension and gratuity-related dues.

Dr Basanta Kumar, who had been employed as a Placement Officer in the university's MBA Department and also a teaching faculty member (Reader), had taken retirement in November 2015.

He says that he has been made a victim as he has exposed the ongoing deep-rooted corrupt practices in the university way back in 2003 and even today as an RTI activist.

As per the Orissa High Court order of October 2012, based on UGC and State Government post sanction and the University Recruitment Act and Rules followed by the 6th Pay Commission norms, he should have been treated as a Reader and his pension calculated accordingly. However, due to the vengeance and mala fide attitude by the university authorities along with Chancellor (Governor's Secretariat) of the university, he is yet to get any such benefits even after over six years of retirement.

"I have lodged my complaint to this effect with the Chancellor, who is also the state Governor, the Chief Minister and the Higher Education Minister, but to no avail," said Kumar while talking to Bizz Buzz over phone.

He also asserted that he was punished out of vendetta by a vested interest group who were affected by corruption exposure. They used even a few students' leaders to write benami petitions against him, accusing his conduct and behaviour of causing the inquiry. The Vice-Chancellor suppressed the 1st inquiry report and subsequently continued a series of inquiries to his satisfaction to punish Kumar in 2003. Not a single allegation was substantiated, but the Vice-Chancellor inferred through his like-minded professor conducting inquiry that he was not a teacher and punished without approval of the Syndicate, Kumar's appointing authority. Kumar further said that he had even knocked on the door of the Orissa High Court in 2003 and 2011, and the final verdict in favour of Kumar came in October 2012. Now, a contempt petition has been in operation but the university authorities have been playing foul and persistently misleading the Governor by suppressing the original sanctioned documents and facts, saying that he was a non-teaching staff member, according to UGC. They even forgot that the UGC, along with the government and Chancellor, as opposite parties, had contested the case

and lost. No appeal to the Supreme Court was filed. The university's review petitions without consent of the Chancellor and the government filed in 2012 are lies with defects without admission for nearly 9 years. Now it is time barred. The State Government Higher Education has already cleared its desk for payment in December 2019 due to the personal appearance notice of the Higher Education Secretary in the contempt of court case.

Unfortunately, the university officials show their arrogance and vengeance by not paying Kumar's pension dues.

Kumar was appointed as Placement Officer in the grade of Reader of the University's MBA department in July 1996. Though the university authorities withdrew teaching status and scale of pay in 2003, Kumar continued as such with his position as Placement Officer (Reader) and availed all financial benefits because of an interim order of the Orissa High Court in 2003. In fact, the State High Court had clearly said in its order in October 2012 that Kumar was not only a placement officer but also an academic staff member, a teacher equivalent to a Reader. He was entitled to promotion too.

In his letter to Odisha Chief Minister, Naveen Patanaik, dated August 21, Kumar says, "Being aggrieved by the wrongful decision of Utkal University and the Chancellor's Secretariat, I have been suffering for the last 20 years. I understand the blinkered approach of the successive Vice-Chancellors and Registrars most of them were university teachers before 2003. Still, I fail to comprehend how senior bureaucrats who were Registrars are supposed to be familiar with the government's 'State Litigation Policy 2011' act on motivated and erroneous file notes of clerks without application of mind and telling lies.

Similarly, the action of the senior bureaucrats in the Governor's Secretariat is equally frustrating, as they go by such information from the University authorities and misguide the Excellency even though all records are available with them regarding sanction of teaching posts in the university MBA department. Despite my

repeated appeals, even after 8+ years of the High Court judgement in 2012, they are still dragging the issue and harassing and torturing me by not paying my legitimate claims (6th Pay fixation, pension fixation, leave salary and gratuity). The actions of these authorities invite more litigation for their own ego satisfaction against the State Litigation Policy 2011." Kumar opines that they also drain out public funds by fighting unwarranted litigation.

Kumud Das
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