CAG red flags HR functioning of SKUAST, recommends adoption of UGC regulations in toto
Jammu: Highlighting shortcomings in manpower planning, appointments, career advancement and entitlements in the twin agriculture universities in Jammu and Kashmir, the CAG has called for immediate review of sanctioned strength to weed out redundant posts and adoption of UGC regulations in toto.
The Comptroller and Auditor General also recommended the introduction of the Subordinate Accounts Course (SAC) part-I and II to ensure efficiency and quality in the accounts wing of both the Jammu and Kashmir chapter of the Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (SKUAST).
“The HR function of the universities was far from satisfactory and was plagued by irregular appointments, favoritism and inadmissible financial up-gradations. Relaxing the minimum standards for appointments and promotions of teachers compromised the quality of teaching and research in the universities,” the CAG said in its latest report on compliance audit for the year ended March 31, 2021.
It said the audit, conducted to ascertain the effectiveness of human resource management in the two universities, found deficiencies in manpower planning, appointments, career advancements and entitlements.
“The universities violated UGC norms for direct appointment of teachers and filled these posts through lateral entry. The mandatory criteria for appointment and career advancement of teachers was diluted,” the report said.
“Premature promotions, inadmissible benefit of Career Advancement Scheme, incorrect pay fixations, inadmissible allowances and entitlements, resulted in extra financial burden to the Government exchequer,” it added.
The report, which was tabled in Parliament on Tuesday, said the lateral entry to teaching positions from lower technical positions deprived the university of availing the benefits of recruiting meritorious teachers through open advertisements.
“Extension of undue benefits due to excess drawl of pay, allowances and entitlements led to financial strain on the state coffers,” it said.
The SKUAST was established on April 01, 1982 by an Act of the Jammu and Kashmir state legislature with the objective of catering to the requirement of agricultural research, education and extension education.
Following an amendment in the Act in 1999, the farm university was bifurcated into two universities namely SKUAST-Jammu and SKUAST-Kashmir.
The report said a compliance audit on human resources management covering the period 2016-17 to 2020-21 was conducted to assess whether the Agriculture Universities had complied with guidelines of the University Grants Commission (UGC), Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) and statutes of the agriculture universities regarding recruitment of employees, in service career advancements, pension payments and entitlements.
“The audit covering the period 2016-17 to 2020-21 was conducted between August 2021 and February 2022, by a test check of records at the offices of Registrar, deans of various faculties and Comptroller of SKUAST-J and SKUAST-K,” CAG said.
“Service records of 7391 personnel (30 percent) of the total persons-in-position (2,462), as on March 2021, were selected on the basis of simple random sampling without replacement, for detailed scrutiny,” it added.
In SKUAST-J, the shortfall ranged between 26 and 33 percent under the teaching category and 19 and 26 percent under the non-teaching category during the period, it said, adding similarly, the shortage of manpower in SKUAST-K ranged between 22 and 33 percent under the teaching category and 29 and 32 percent under non-teaching category during 2016-21.
Whereas SKUAST-J made only seven appointments in respect of the teaching cadre and 59 for the non-teaching cadre, SKUAST-K made 173 and 193 appointments in teaching and non-teaching cadres respectively during the period 2016-21, it said.
The report said the audit noticed that the agriculture universities had neither reviewed recruitment rules since their creation, nor put in place any mechanism for periodic assessment of vacancies, review of sanctioned strength and fixing of time frame within which vacant posts were to be filled which paved way for appointments in excess of sanctioned strength, ad hocism in governance and misutilisation of vacant posts.
As of March 2022, the agriculture universities had not implemented the reservation policy for direct appointment of teachers from reserved categories in accordance with the UGC guidelines of August 2006, it said.
The universities had also not carried out restructuring of the non-teaching cadre which resulted in avoidable litigations and the continuation of redundant posts. In violation of UGC regulations which stipulated the appointment of Assistant Professors only through direct recruitment, the Agriculture Universities notified (1994, 2012 and 2018) Career Advancement Scheme (CAS) for technical posts stipulating the promotion of non-teaching technical employees to teaching positions.
Accordingly, the CAG said the universities irregularly upgraded (between July 1994 and December 2013) 10 senior technical assistants in SKUAST-J and 45 STAs in SKUAST-K, to entry-level UGC pay scales of assistant professors.
In its recommendations to the universities, the CAG called for an urgent review of sanctioned strength to weed out redundant posts and a process for filling up management positions through direct recruitment.
“The universities should adopt UGC regulations in toto and avoid lateral entry of technical cadres to teaching positions to maintain the minimum standards prescribed for appointment of teachers,” it said.
“The CAG also urged revisiting the career advancement scheme of teaching positions in consonance with UGC regulations and also suggested the immediate introduction of SAC Part-I and II for ensuring efficiency and quality in the accounts wing,” the report added.