Rajshahi University main entrance
Rajshahi University main entrance UNB

Even in the first tenure of his appointment, allegations of irregularities and misuse of power had been levelled against the vice chancellor of Rajshahi University, Abdus Sobhan, who was appointed for a second term in 2017. These irregularities and corruption have reached such a height that 63 teachers have lodged written complaints against him with the prime minister's office, the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the education ministry.

The teachers who have made the complaints are Awami League supporters and so there is no scope of alleging that they are BNP and Jamaat teachers conspiring against him and the pro-liberation war government.

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Speaking at a press briefing on Sunday, vice chancellor Abdus Sobhan tried to dismiss the allegations against him as ' trivial '. If these allegations indeed had no basis, then why did he not cooperate with UGC in its investigations? He said that it was not in UGC's jurisdiction to investigate the allegations brought against him. But UGC is in charge of supervising the universities and so investigations into such irregularities and corruption are certainly within its jurisdiction. He simply did not turn up at UCG's public hearing because he is aware of his own weaknesses.

A major allegation brought against the vice chancellor is that he relaxed the rules of appointment in order to accommodate his daughter and son-in-law as teachers at the university. Also, he appointed a post graduate student to a department, though that department already had qualified post graduate candidates.

The vice chancellor claimed that his appointed candidates had passed the SSC and HSC exams with 'much difficulty' during the BNP rule. Is he implying that during the Awami League rule, everyone can easily pass exams? There are rules and regulations pertaining to the appointment of university teachers. These cannot be relaxed for any particular candidates.

No matter how powerful the vice chancellor may be, he is not above the law

There are allegations that the vice chancellor has resorted to other devious means in order to consolidate his power. Instead of qualified teachers, he has appointed persons of his choice to important positions in the university administration. Before questioning UGC's jurisdiction, the vice chancellor should first check whether he himself has violated the university rules. Because of his arbitrary actions, many undeserving candidates have been appointed to various departments and the meritorious have been deprived.

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The vice chancellor has termed UGC's inquiry as one-sided and biased, and has demanded a judicial inquiry. Judicial inquiries are often demanded when a lack of confidence arises in investigations by the law enforcement agencies. But it is the UGC that is investigating the allegations against the vice chancellor.

This is not the first time that investigations are being conducted against any vice chancellor. UGC has carried out inquiries against vice chancellors of several different universities in the past and action has been taken based on their recommendations.

The Rajshahi University's vice chancellor has two months left of his term in office. His demand for a judicial inquiry is nothing but delay tactics.

There is no scope to overlook UGC's investigations and recommendations. The appointments which have been made by relaxing the rules, must be cancelled immediately. After all, no matter how powerful the vice chancellor may be, he is not above the law.