Friday 30 November 2012

Appointment of NIPER registrar set aside

NOV 30: Mohali The Punjab Harayana High Court set aside the selection and appointment of P. J. P. Singh Waraich as registrar of NIPER. The court passed the judgment while allowing a petition filed by Dr. Parikshit Bansal and Dr. Neeraj Kumar, Asst Professors, NIPER, challenging the appointment.

The petitioner had alleged that the selection committee  had selected the current incumbent flaunting all the rule and guideline posted in the advertisement  For the post of the registrar prerequisite was 15 years of administrative experience, of which 8 years shall be as Deputy Registrar or an equivalent post (AGP Rs 7600). However as per the document current registrar joined as Wing commander wef 17 June 2008 in Rs 7600 AGP. Thus not fulfilling the criterion. Formal complains regarding the appointment of registrar was lodged by three faculty members to Chairman BOG before filling the petition, but BOG failed to adjudicate the Grievance.  Holding that the selection was not correct and sustainable, the court observed that a strange procedure had been followed by the selection committee. 

it is also reported that PJP Singh Waraich had reportedly given KK Bhutani a sum of Rs. 20 lakh for his appointment as the Registrar. A NIPER staff, who does not want to be named said, “Bhutani had extracted R20 lakh from Waraich and had interviewed him in May. Waraich had then been appointed despite the fact that Waraich did not meet the requisite qualifications of eligibility for the post of Registrar at NIPER, Mohali.”

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Saturday 17 November 2012

Decision reserved for NIPER Registrar appointment; HC

Chandigarh: 16th Nov 2012 Civil Writ Petition filed in Punjab and Harayana High court challenging the appointment of PJP Singh Waraich was up for argument. Case was argued for approximately two and half hours and pertinent questions regarding appointing authority, selection procedure and procedure adopted for award of marks to the candidates appeared for interview was scrutinized.   

For the post of the registrar prerequisite was 15 years of administrative experience, of which 8 years shall be as Deputy Registrar or an equivalent post (AGP Rs 7600). However as per the document current registrar joined as Wing commander wef 17 June 2008 in Rs 7600 AGP. Thus not fulfilling the criterion. Formal complains regarding the appointment of registrar was lodged by three faculty members to Chairman BOG before filling the petition, but BOG failed to adjudicate the Grievance.  

Thursday 15 November 2012

Yet another

Chandigarh: Dr. Parikshit Bansal  filled another CWP No 20746 of 2012 under Article 226/227 of the Constitution of India for the issuance of a writ order or direction to 1) KK Bhutani, Officiating Director, 2) NIPER, through Registrar 3) BoG, NIPER through Chairman. 

Dr. Bansal place the matter before the court as a malafide act of KK Bhutani, Officiating Director, with intent to harm the career and intimidate a petitioner. This is because he is filed another case CWP No. 14537 of 2012, for issuance of a writ of Mandamus or any other writ order or direction, directing the C.B.I. to conduct a detailed and thorough investigation into the financial irregularities and lapses which have taken place at National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER), as the CVC on the complaint of the petitioner has failed to hold an inquiry into the matter and thus failed to perform its mandatory duties.

Monday 12 November 2012


CWP No 20462 of 2012

5) KK Bhutani, Officiating Director   4) Director, NIPER     3)NIPER, through Registrar    2) BoG, NIPER through Chairman    1) UOI, through secretary DOP Vs  Dr. Nilanjan Roy 

Civil Writ Petition under Article 226/227 of the Constitution of India for the issuance of a writ order or direction, especially in the nature of Certiorari  quashing the order dated 20.04.2012 passed by  officiating Director, Dr. K.K. Bhutani (Respondent no. 5), dismissing the petitioner from service, being not only illegal and arbitrary but also having passed by the incompetent authority having no jurisdiction as provided under the statutory rules governing the service conditions of the petitioner as well as the order dated 27.09.2012 passed by the appellate authority being unjust, unfair, against the principles of natural justice and totally disproportionate and the settled proposition of law in a catena of decisions rendered by the Apex court and this Hon'ble court   

Saturday 10 November 2012

Fall of a premier institute

Illustration: Karno Guhathakurta

Amid funds siphoning allegations, future of National Institute of Pharma Education seems bleak

WHEN the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research was set up in 1998, people had high hopes. Established in Mohali, Punjab, as an IIT-equivalent premier institute, NIPER was to set the standard in pharma research in the country, while producing experts and offering technical consultations to small-scale industries. For a country whose pharma industry relies on affordable bulk drugs and generic medicines, an institute like NIPER is essential to provide new molecules and innovations that the industry could access. This is particularly important for small-scale pharma firms that, unlike pharma giants, do not have in-house research facilities. But of late, NIPER has been mired in controversy, mostly due to funds embezzlement and administrative problems, dissuading students from enrolling themselves at this apex pharma research institute.

The latest controversy is a public interest petition filed by the institute’s associate professor Parikshit Bansal in the High Court of Punjab and Haryana, seeking a CBI inquiry into misappropriation of funds for the department of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and action against the former and incumbent directors of the institute.

Bansal, who is with the department of pharmaceutical management, has accused former director P Rama Rao of siphoning funds earmarked for the IPR department. Under the 11th Five Year Plan, the Centre had sanctioned Rs 2.25 crore for setting up the IPR department, meant to offer masters programme in IPR management as well as conduct training programmes for the faculty of NIPER and sister institutes so that they can learn to manage their patents effectively. In 2009, Bansal says, he chanced upon a few internal documents which showed that the Centre had disbursed Rs 1.15 crore since 2007. “I was never told about the funds, even though I was in-charge of the project,” he alleges. That year, he blew the whistle by writing to the President of India, he Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and the Board of Governors of NIPER, apprising them of the embezzlement. Rama Rao resigned in the midst of the controversy.

The newly appointed officiating director, K K Bhutani, promised Bansal a new beginning. In 2010, the Centre released another parcel for the IPR project: Rs 47 lakh. Bansal alleges that Bhutani sanctioned more than half of the allotted money for buying SciFinder software, a research tool, even though it was not approved under the plan. RTI queries by a few other professors of the institute in 2011 revealed that the central vigilance officer of the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers, under whose ambit the institute falls, had not initiated any inquiry into Bansal’s complaints. Following this, Bansal approached the high court in August this year. The court has issued notice to the institute, the directors and the Department of Pharmaceuticals. The case will be heard on November 16.

Chequered past

Bansal’s experience is not a one-off case. In April this year, NIPER dismissed Nilanjan Roy, associate professor in the department of biotechnology, on charges of embezzlement of funds.

But Roy shares the other side of the story with Down To Earth: “They kicked me out because I exposed misappropriation of funds in purchase of diesel, hiring of support staff and buying spare parts.” He wrote to V M Katoch, chairperson of board of governors of NIPER, asking for a probe into his expulsion, but his appeal was dismissed. Roy has recently moved high court. Similarly, in 2005 the contract of a scientist, Animesh Roy, in the organic chemistry department was not renewed on charges of disobedience and poor performance. NIPER was forced to take him back after an inquiry by the board of governors found the charges invalid.

Bansal, Nilanjan Roy, and another colleague Neeraj Kumar, have now taken it upon themselves to expose the alleged mismanagement. They have created a blog, where they post incidences of corruption and mismanagement, replies to their RTI queries and questions raised in Parliament regarding NIPER.

Their expose has created a buzz in Parliament. In 2012, eight questions were raised in the Lok Sabha, most of them pertaining to financial misappropriations. Replying to a question on September 6, Union Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilizers Srikant Kumar Jena said the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) did not find any lapses in the institute and that the institute has an internal audit system in place since May 2011.

Replying to another question, Jena said neither the government nor the board of governors of NIPER received any written complaint regarding financial irregularities. Documents with Down To Earth, though, show the contrary.

The three whistle-blowers have already caused a stir among the NIPER administration. K K Bhutani told Down To Earth that the three scientists have disrupted the functioning of the institute. His view is shared by Jagdeep Singh, secretary general of the SME (small medium enterprises) Pharma Industries Consortium (SPIC), which facilitates interaction between small-scale pharma firms and NIPER. “Scientists are unable to work as they spend all their time answering public interest petitions, RTIs and Parliament questions. All of them have been engineered by these three scientists.”

Opportunity lost?

Despite the problems, research and industry experts think the institute has an important role to play. “It has a great faculty, a strong advisory council and the research is cutting edge,” says Girish Sahni, a member of NIPER board of governors and director of the Institute of Microbial Technology in Chandigarh.

Since it was established, NIPER has applied for 190 patents and got 40 of them approved. Seven of them have been successfully commercialised. One sold to Indian firm InSwift is an improved process of making blood thinning drug Clopidogrel. The others include improved microbicides and anti-malarials. Bhutani contends that “business is not our motto”. “We create manpower for the pharmaceutical industry and do cutting-edge research. The Thomson Reuters Awards for Excellence is a testimony to our efforts,” he says. NIPER received the award for excellence in research and analysis. In the past two years, Bhutani says, NIPER has had 1,378 research publications. Between 2008 and 2011, the institute produced 461 post-graduates, 144 MBAs and 48 PhDs.

Not all experts are impressed with this. “The right question to ask here is what kind of patents are these,” says N Raghuram, former secretary of Society for Scientific Values, a watchdog organisation. “These are not new molecules or products, but merely new processes of making old molecules or improved versions of older products,” he says.

Lalit Kumar Jain, who is a member of board of governors, elected by the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, and SME pharma owner, says the quality of scientists in NIPER is bad. “That is why they have not been able to do original research.”

Singh, however, quashes Jain’s allegations, saying he was expelled from SPIC for unethical practices. The industry stands by NIPER, he adds. T R Gopalakrishnan, adviser with the Indian Drug Manufacturers’ Association, is also content with NIPER’s performance. “Drug manufacturing is an excruciatingly lengthy procedure. A lot of clinical studies need to be performed. Twelve years is indeed a very short time and seven commercialisations are not bad,” Gopalakrishnan says.

Sahni believes the prevailing problems can be tackled by hiring a regular director. Singh suggests that the institute should hire more staff to answer RTI and Parliament questions. “Why should the director and scientists waste their time?” he asks.

According to Raghuram, root of the problem lies with the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, which, unlike the health and science and technology ministries, has no experience in handling research institutes. He, however, reckons that transferring the institute to another ministry may not be the solution. “All scientific institutes in the country function in a feudal manner. The director rules the roost, and the scientists don’t have much of a say.” Raghuram adds that the internal decision making process should be more democratic, and that a decision making body should be carefully selected, with a balanced mix of internal and external experts. “The ministry should ask the scientists to vote for the council.”

As the administrative problems and financial irregularities continue, students are the ultimate losers. Raghuram says NIPER is no longer top choice for students. In September students at the newly set up NIPER-Ahmedabad held protests against inadequate lab facilities and below-par teaching standard.

In recent years six new NIPERs have been set up across the country—Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Hajipur, Kolkata, Rae Bareli and Guwahati. The institute receives generous funds from the government—it was granted Rs 156 crore under the 11th Plan alone. The ministry has pitched a vision paper for Rs 1,400 crore for NIPER in the 12th Plan. But experts suggest it would be good to tackle the administrative problems first.

Source URL: