Express News Service
DEHRADUN: Department of Personnel and Training of the Central Government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself, in its affidavit submitted in Uttarakhand high court said that the Forest Research Institute, Dehradun is not a recognized institution.
Notably, this is the same institution where PM Modi himself performed asanas with more than 50,000 Yoga enthusiasts in June 2018 on International Yoga Day.
The DoPT filed an affidavit in the high court in response to the notice issued by the court in February this year while hearing a petition of Magsaysay Award recipient India Forest Services (IFS) officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi alleging irregularities and forgery by the center in the selection process of a member of Staff Selection Commission (SSC).
The affidavit dated April 28, 2021 filed by the secretary, DoPT said, “Further, the petitioner (Chaturvedi) did not possess the educational qualification of Post Graduate Degree from a recognized University or Institution.”
The notices were issued to the Center through the secretary, Department of Personnel and Training, Uttarakhand government, and postal department on February 25, 2021.
Chaturvedi had applied for the post of member of Staff Selection Commission but his candidature was declined on various grounds. One of the main areas of dispute was the fulfillment of eligibility criteria regarding postgraduate degree from a recognized institution.
The officer had produced a notification of the year 1998 in which the FRI had notified that probation course/training of Indian Forest Services officers at Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy (IGNFA), Dehradun has to be treated as MSc Forestry.
Interestingly, the institution was declared as a deemed university by the University Grant Commission (UGC) in 1991. Later in 1998, the Academic Council of Forest Research Institute, Dehradun recognized the PG Diploma in Forestry of AIGNFA equivalent to MSc (Forestry).
Uttarakhand government after duly examining the application of the 2002 batch Indian Forest Services (IFS) officer, had granted its concurrence and had forwarded the application of the officer to the secretary DoPT on March 19, 2020, with a verification statement about the correctness of the same including the validity of his postgraduate degree from the FRI.
Commenting on the issue, Sudarshan Goel, senior advocate from the Supreme Court of India said, “The reply filed by the central government regarding Forest Research Institute not being a recognized institution is simply scandalous and criminal. The affidavit filed by Central Government is all the more perplexing because recognizing the eminence of this institution even Prime Minister Modi had chosen this institute for the performance of Yoga with 50,000 participants on international Yoga day on 21 June 2018. Now in view of the enormity of issues involved and brazenness, we are going to file perjury application before Hon’ble High Court for appropriate punishment to persons responsible for this act.”
Established by Britishers in 1878, it is a 143-year-old institute, being one of the oldest institutes in the country and the second oldest of Uttarakhand after the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee which was established in 1865.
“The FRI is the most prestigious institution of this country in the forestry sector and recognized around the world for its professional research. Since then thousands of students have been awarded postgraduate, Ph.D. and other levels of degrees, and even its works are mentioned in the Annual report submitted by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests to Parliament and therefore, an affidavit filed by the central government before the Hon’ble High Court declaring FRI as not a recognized institution will play havoc with future of thousands of students getting degrees from this otherwise prestigious institution,” added the senior advocate.
The petitioner in his petition alleged that his records including his date of birth were forged under a criminal conspiracy to debar him from the selection process of the members of the Staff Selection Commission while another person was appointed without completing the eligibility criteria for the member of the SSC.
The Selection Committee in its meeting held on July 10, 2020, had shortlisted five candidates for interview and finally, the name of Ashok Kumar was approved by the Appointment Committee of Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Later, on September 15, 2020, appointment orders of Ashok Kumar as a member of the SSC were issued mentioning that the cooling-off requirement in respect of Ashok Kumar had been relaxed by the competent authority.