In a clarification submitted to Governor Arif Mohammed Khan on August 16, Kannur University Vice Chancellor Gopinath Ravindran said there was no irregularity in granting the highest mark to Priya Varghese during the selection process for the post of associate professor in the University.
The VC said that marks were granted on the basis of Priya's performance in the interview.
The Governor had put on hold Priya's appointment and sought a clarification from the VC. Khan had publicly stated that the Kannur University was riddled with a series of irregularities, nepotism and code violations. Earlier, he had even said that the chief minister and the higher education minister had coerced him into re-appointing Gopinath Ravindran as the Kannur University VC.
Priya's triumph had set off charges of nepotism. It was said that Priya, who had the least research score among the six applicants, was picked for the post as she was the wife of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's political secretary K K Ragesh. While her research score (a measure of the research activities, including research papers published) was 156, Joseph Scariah who eventually came second in the interview had 651.
It was alleged that the interview process was rigged in her favour. Also, it was said that she did not have the sufficient teaching experience to be picked for the post. It was alleged that she had included her research years in her teaching experience.
Sources said that the VC had informed the Governor that the UGC Regulations of 2018 had made 'interview' the most decisive test of selection. The 2010 Regulations had accorded decisive weightage for academic and research accomplishments.
Priya had scored 32 for the interview and Scariah came second with 30 marks. During the interview, five parameters are used to assess the applicants: research, publication, teaching ability, language competence and inter-disciplinary and domain knowledge. Scaria scored one mark less than Priya in two areas: 'teaching ability' and 'interdisciplinary and domain knowledge'.
Priya herself had taken to Facebook the other day to counter the charge that she had a low research score. She said the research score of each applicant was an arbitrary score automatically generated on the basis of the claims made by the applicants, and not something granted by the University after a verification process. She said the basic score fixed by the UGC to be eligible for the interview was 75. The University processes a candidate's claims till he or she secures the eligibility score of 75 marks. She said the claims beyond that were not verified.