Dr.V. M. Katoch
Chairman, Board of Governors, NIPER
Secretary to Govt. of India, Department of Health Research &
Director General, Indian Council of Medial Research
Ansari Nagar,New Delhi 110029,
1. Formal complaint against Prof. K. K. Bhutani, Present Officiating Director, NIPER and Prof. P.Ramarao, Ex-Director, NIPER (2005-2010) regarding misappropriation and diversion of 11th Five Year Plan (2007-2012) funds to the tune of several crores.
2. Prayer for setting up inquiry committee and appropriate action in the matter
Ref: Misappropriation of 11th Five Year Plan money allotted to NIPER, Mohali, pertaining to project on Intellectual Property Rights (Scheme N17), Project Outlay Rs.2.25 crores and project on new specialization in R&D Management (Scheme N14), Project Outlay Rs.1.60 crores.
As a responsible citizen, concerned tax-payer and keeping in view larger national interests, I am hereby making a formal complaint to you against Prof. K.K.Bhutani, Present Officiating Director, NIPER and Prof. P. Ramarao, Ex-Director, NIPER (2005-2010) regarding misappropriation and large scale diversion of 11th Five Year Plan funds and submitting prayer for setting up an independent inquiry committee.
Relevant facts are as below:
1. That In March 2005, I was asked by the then Director NIPER, Prof. P Rama Rao to prepare a new project pertaining to 11th Five Year Plan for setting up an “Intellectual Property Rights Cell” at NIPER. I duly prepared the proposal. Subsequently, on 14th Dec 2007 in the Expenditure and Finance Committee (EFC) meeting of the Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals (DCPC) for infrastructure development and new schemes of NIPER, the project was approved for funding of Rs. 225 lacs against proposed budget of Rs. 275 lacs (New Scheme- N17).
2. I had drafted/proposed the project. As relevant expert I was responsible for its execution and progress. However, Prof. P. Ramarao, Director NIPER did not inform me about approval of the project FOR THREE YEARS. Though no funds were released to me nor I submitted any utilization certificate, Rs. 30 lacs Rs. 40 lacs and Rs. 45 lacs (total – Rs.115 lacs) were duly released by Ministry for three consecutive financial years to NIPER (2007-08, 2008-09 2009-10) years. Funds were utilized primarily for purchase of a single software ‘scifinder’ costing about Rs.27 lacs (Rs. Twenty seven lacs) every year, whereas the amount proposed for software under the project was only Rs.2 lac (two lacs) per year! Thus, the only activity carried out by Prof. Ramarao under the project was procuring a costly single- user- license software “Scifinder” from the scheme. No Department of Intellectual Property rights was set up for which money was asked, nor any manpower hired for capacity building as proposed nor any infrastructure developed by Prof. Rao who did not even inform the PI that project had been approved. This was despite the fact that GOVT. HAD FUNDED PROJECT IN NATIONAL INTEREST, REPOSING FAITH IN THE INSTITUTE AND DIRECTOR THAT OBJECTIVES WOULD BE MET.
3. Deeply dejected by this act of Prof. Ramarao, I lodged a formal complaint with Visitor to NIPER and subsequently with the CVC on 30th Dec. 2009. Dr.Ramarao submitted his resignation to the Board of Governors on 31st Dec.2009. Thereafter, existing Board of Governors got dissolved and got constituted recently on 22nd June, 2011.
4. After Prof. Rao’s resignation, Prof.K.K.Bhutani, Head, Natural Products, NIPER took charge as Officiating Director in January, 2010. He asked me to ‘forget the past’ and ‘start afresh with positive outlook’. He assured me of full support for the IPR project as approved. However, when the funds came, he again diverted the same for purchase of ‘sci-finder’ software which was neither proposed nor approved under the scheme. My pleadings that diversion of such a huge amount of money for purchase of a single software would seriously affect progress of the project were of no avail. Though I informed that the software was available in Panjab University, Chandigarh and could easily be accessed by paying institutional library membership fee of only Rs.10,000/-. Prof. Bhutani did not listen at all and showed lot of interest and ‘speed’ in ‘clearing’ the order for sci-finder (Rs.27 lacs for only one year). He showed no interest in approving any manpower as proposed under the project and my requests in this regard failed completely.
5. Recently, I came to know that Prof. Ramarao and Prof. Bhutani have repeated similar story of diversion and misappropriation of 11th Five Year Plan Money in another project pertaining to “Research and Development Specialization in Management”, proposed by Dr. Anand Sharma of Management Department and duly approved for funding of Rs.160 lacs (New Scheme-N14). As a faculty member in Management Department, I duly participated along with other faculty members, in preparation of syllabus and development of teaching program for “R&D Management Course” in 2010 on request of Prof. Bhutani. It came as a rude shock to me when I came to know that same was part of an 11th Five Year Plan Scheme for which Rs.160 lacs was approved. However, the PI of the project was neither informed of approval of the project nor any funds released to the Department under this scheme, nor any manpower provided. No utilization certificate was submitted by the Principal Investigator who proposed and wrote the project.
6. Interactions with other faculty members of NIPER, review of information obtained under Right to Information Act and also evidence gathered from independent sources reveals large scale misappropriation and diversion of funds (released to NIPER under the 11th Five Year Plan) by Prof. P. Ramarao, Ex-Director NIPER and Prof. K. K. Bhutani, present Officiating Director, with the amount running into several crores.
7. It is a matter of grave concern that despite all ‘purported’ checks and balances, supposed auditing etc.etc. still ‘diversion and misappropriation’ of funds took place. A major contributing factor to misuse of funds could be the fact that information regarding release of funds is not communicated to the Principal Investigator and there is total lack of transparency regarding release and availability of funds under various projects. Secondly, owing to ‘contractual nature of appointments’ even if a person comes to know of any wrongdoing, it becomes very difficult for him to complain because of fear of ‘termination’ of his services. Risk of victimization, loss of job and damage to one’s career are harsh realities which prevents individuals from speaking out against wrong doings and encourage ‘unbridled corruption’ by few individuals. Thirdly, owing to highly technical nature of the projects, unless the Principal investigators are involved in the audit or in an inquiry, it is difficult to make out how the money has been misappropriated.
As a responsible citizen, concerned tax-payer and keeping in view larger national interests, I pray for the setting up of an independent inquiry committee to conduct a free, fair and transparent inquiry into utilization of 11th Five Year Plan Money by NIPER and appropriate action against Prof. P. Ramarao and Prof. K. K. Bhutani for financial misappropriation and diversion of funds, defeating national objectives and causing irreparable societal harm. I further pray for appropriate directions to Prof. K. K. Bhutani, Officiating Director against victimizing or initiating any disciplinary action against me under the conduct rules. To best of my knowledge, there is nothing in the conduct rules which prevents a citizen from acting in larger national interest. I pray for temporary relieving of Prof. Bhutani from the Officiating Director’s post, so that a fair, impartial inquiry can be conducted without any undue influence or fear of victimization and faculty can come forward and speak freely. All necessary supporting documents, evidence and relevant information will be duly provided to the appropriate body if required.
1. All BOG members 2. All NIPER faculty members 3. Visitor to NIPER 4. MOF
5. Chairman, Planning Commission, New Delhi 6. CAG, New Delhi 7. Cabinet Secretary