Associate Professor appointment in Kannur University: RTI reveals that Ragesh's wife lacks required qualification

Thiruvananthapuram: A set of RTI documents has revealed that Priya Varghese does not have the basic qualification for applying to the post of Associate Professor in the Kannur University. Priya is the wife of KK Ragesh, Private Secretary to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

The details of the qualifications of Priya were contained in the RTI reply received by the Kannur varsity senate member Dr RK Biju from the university.

Priya got her PhD in 2019. She was Student Services Director in the Kannur University for two years under deputation. She rejoined service in Kerala Varma College, Thrissur in June, 2021. She became the Assistant Director of the Kerala Bhasha Institute in July, 2021. 

As per the UGC rules, the required qualifications for appointment to Associate Professor are PhD and eight years teaching experience. But the "Save University Campaign Committee" pointed out that Priya had only one month teaching experience after getting PhD. 

The three-member Bench of the High Court had earlier ordered that the teaching experience gained after attaining the minimum qualification prescribed for the post should be considered as eligibility for applying for the post. This order was later ratified by the Supreme Court. 

But in Priya's case, she must have attained eight years of teaching experience after getting PhD to apply for the post of Associate Professor. The complainants argued that she had applied for the post after getting only one month teaching experience after getting a PhD degree and hence, she doesn't have the required qualification for the project.

Six names, including that of Priya, were shortlisted for the post. Among them, four candidates had a minimum of 8-13 years of teaching experience at the time after receiving PhD. Many of them were also credited with publishing in a number of journals in national and international publications of repute. 

The allegation is that the Interview Board of the university gave first rank to Priya, ostensibly under political pressure, overlooking the claims of eligible and meritorious candidates.

In the affidavit given along with the application form for the post of Associate Professorship, Priya had mentioned that she was a teacher at Kerala Varma College, Thrissur for nine years from 2012 to 2021. But it is alleged that Priya had hidden the fact that out of these nine years, she had spent three years for research and two years as Student Services Director at the Kannur varsity on deputation. Moreover, she was merely a guest lecturer at the university for two years.

The "Save University Campaign Committee" gave a complaint to the Chancellor and the Vice-Chancellor, seeking removal of Priya's name from the shortlist and initiation of action against those responsible for including Priya's name in the list.



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