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6 Nov 2016

Court asks CBI to probe graft by ex-VC of Sikkim varsity

Pramod Giri, HT, 6 Nov 2016, Siliguri: In what could be termed a major setback for Prof Mahendra P Lama, the founding vice-chancellor of Sikkim Central University, the high court of Sikkim has directed CBI to probe the alleged gross financial irregularities in the functioning of the university during his tenure as vice-chancellor.
Prof Lama completed his five year tenure in 2012 and is presently engaged in various committees constituted by the Union government, including the India Nepal Eminent Persons Group. Later, he became pro-vice chancellor of Indira Gandhi National Open University.
He resigned from IGNOU to contest the 2014 Lok Sabha election from Darjeeling as an Independent candidate. Later, he and Harka Bhadur Chettri, former MLA of Kalimpong, formed Jan Andolan Party of which Lama is the chairman of the central bureau.
In its November 3 order a Division Bench of Chief Justice of Sikkim High Court Satish K Agnihotri and Justice Meenakshi Madan Rai said the court was not amused with the inertia of the human resources development ministry to act on a UGC panel’s recommendations of March 2015 that the financial mis-utilisation in Sikkim University be probed meticulously by a law enforcing agency.
The order was given following lack of response from the central government to the previous notices from the high court of Sikkim over a 2015 petition filed by a South Sikkim-based NGO over alleged financial irregularities in Sikkim University.
Lama along with university dean (microbiology) Jyotiprakash Tamang, Sikkim state government, human resource development ministry, Union government and Sikkim University are the respondents in the petition filed by Ravangla Astha Organisation and its general secretary Bishnu Rai.
The organisation had previously filed a writ petition in 2012 seeking a direction from the high court to examine the alleged irregularities committed in Sikkim University. A two-member committee constituted by UGC to enquire into the allegations against the Sikkim University, Prof Lama and Tamang who was the then registrar, submitted its report in March 2015.
The Ravangla Astha Organisation last July approached the high court of Sikkim seeking a direction to comply with the recommendations made.
Finally on Thursday, the court ordered a CBI probe into the allegations.

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