Priya Varghese case: Verdict exposes exaggerated experience, says petitioner

Kannur University
Kannur University. Photo: Manorama Online.

Kochi: While hailing Kerala High Court's verdict on Thursday ordering a re-examination of the appointment of Dr Priya Varghese at Kannur university, the petitioner Dr Joseph Scaria expressed his concerns as to whether the university will take timely steps to rectify the mistake.

Both Priya Varghese and Joseph Scaria were among the candidates considered for the post of associate professor of Malayalam. Though Dr Scaria topped the list with a research score of 651 points, Priya - who was until then lingering at the bottom with 156 points - scored 32 in the interview stage to pip the former (30).

Following this development, Scaria moved the high court challenging the experience Dr Priya claimed to have in her application.

For the post of associate professor, an applicant should have at least eight years of teaching experience.

Examining Priya's records, the court found that not all of her qualifications can be considered as academic experience.

"Priya's tenure as an assistant professor is not enough for her to be considered for the post of associate. A candidate must have taught a minimum of eight years before applying for the post of associate professor, which has not been the case here," the court observed.

The court also pointed out that even Priya herself agreed to the fact that she did not teach any class during the entirety of her PhD research period.

While stating that a candidate's research period cannot be considered as work experience, the court expressed confusion over how the scrutiny committee found this to be enough.

The court also stated that no university is above the rules and regulations laid out by the UGC.

"The high court has exposed the exaggerated teaching experience claimed by Dr Priya Varghese," Dr Joseph Scaria said about the verdict.

"It said the university's scrutiny committee had made some assumptions about her experience while approving her application. The court has asked the university's competent authority to look into her teaching experience. If she falls short, her application will be rejected," added Scaria, who is the assistant professor and the Head of the Department of Malayalam at St. Berchmans College, Changanassery.

"The court has also implied she does not make the cut. But it wants the university to correct its mistake. I don't know how soon it will do it," Scaria told Onmanorama over the phone.

Earlier, Governor Arif Mohammed Khan too had cancelled Dr Priya Varghese's appointment citing nepotism. Priya is the wife of KK Ragesh, the private secretary to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

Kannur Vice Chancellor Gopinath Ravindran did not respond to calls made to his phone.

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