NEHU officials under CBI scanner

Shillong, July 23: The Central Bureau of Investigation has initiated an enquiry on work order pertaining to setting up of feeder pillars in the campus of the North Eastern Hill University. The University has given its approval to CBI to initiate a preliminary inquiry against Jose Cherian Executive Engineer under Section 17A of Prevention of Corruption Act (Amendment 2018), as per the resolution adopted in its Executive Council on June 28, 2021.
However, the University has reportedly taken a lot of time to grant permission to CBI and is alleged that this time has been used by the officials under scanner to get hold of evidence against them.
It may be stated that while the Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO) of an organization works as a link between investigating agencies and the organization, the CVO assuming the role of granting tender has been involved in tendering and award granting process. If the concerned Engineer is implicated prima facie in the feeder pillar case, the CVO concerned, who is a signatory in approving these tainted papers, can he be above investigation? Can the papers held by the CVO be safe? These are some hard questions that NEHU has to answer in coming days.
Sources informed that the tender under the scanner of CBI was approved by Prof Henri Lamin in the capacity of Vice Chancellor, when Prof. SK Srivastava was out of station in December 2019. It is also alleged that the work was awarded by him in total disregard to the resolution adopted in 130th Building Committee which instructed the concerned officials to bring the matter of feeder pillar back into the next meeting of the Building Committee, which the University Engineer in-charge ignored and went on to award the work to a party, which now is under scanner.
In this regard, informed sources opine that the continuation of Prof Lamin as CVO and Jose Cherian Executive Engineer is prejudicial and also detrimental to the inquiry. “In the interest of fairness, the persons who were involved in the tender and selection process should be kept away from their offices till CBI inquiry concludes,” they added.
It is also alleged that Jose Cherian has favoured the same contractor in one more case of tender amounting to Rs 62,97,302.00 for ‘Facelift of Community Hall with Bamboo Wall Cladding etc’ as the contractor has submitted his documents relating to his Professional Tax, which were not in his name.
Questions have also been raised as to how Jose Cherian is continuing to hold the post of University Engineer in-charge for the last five years when his appointment to the post was made as a stop-gap measure on August 19, 2016.
Sources also informed that the Executive Council of the University has now decided to advertise the post of University Engineer on deputation. “This is in total disregard to Recruitment Rules for the said post,” they said while pointing out that the Recruitment Rules state that a person on deputation can be taken only if there is no response to Direct Recruitment advertisement.