Sharma at a protest in 2016.
Saurabh Sharma, former joint secretary of the JNU Students’ Union from the ABVP, has been appointed as an Assistant Professor at the School of Computer & Systems Sciences (SC&SS). While the Screening Committee of the School had not shortlisted him since he didn’t meet the eligibility criteria, his name was added to the list later by the Internal Quality Assurance Cell (IQAC), it is learnt.
Sharma was among the 14 student witnesses named in the JNU sedition chargesheet, filed in connection with a February 9, 2016 event, held to mark the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. He was among key ABVP members leading the charge against the accused.
There are three stages to the selection process — the Screening Committee, the IQAC and finally Selection Committee. His appointment was approved by the Selection Committee, which included three external experts, on November 25.
Questions have also been raised on the composition of the Selection Committee, with the then Dean of SC&SS D K Lobiyal alleging that names of all three external experts — Atul Gonsai from Saurashtra University, Anjana Gosain from I P University and
T Chitralekha from Pondicherry University — were not part of the list of faculty provided by the School, as is the norm.
“I had objected to Gonsai’s name when it was brought to the Academic Council, as it was not from the list of names we had provided. I don’t recollect the other names being brought to the AC,” he said. Gonsai and Gosain refused to comment, while Chitralekha could not be reached for a comment.
Sharma was among the shortlisted candidates in the OBC category at the SC&SS, the interview for which took place on November 25. In May this year, the JNUSU had alleged that Sharma was awarded his PhD degree in “undue haste”, with his viva being held and degree being printed in a gap of a few days — in a departure from the norm.
Sharma has done his PhD in Computational Neuroscience and M Tech in Computational and System Biology. His thesis was on ‘Characterization and prediction of complex brain states and their switching mechanism using EEG data’.
The advertisement put out in April this year by SC&SS said the candidate “should have M Tech/M Phil/ME in Computer Science”. Sharma’s name had been included in the original list of shortlisted candidates, but a Screening Committee member said it had been an “error” that was rectified as soon as it was brought to their notice.
“His name, along with three others, was included by mistake due to an oversight. However, it was clarified by Screening Committee members that these four people do not clear the eligibility criteria and a new list was prepared which did not have Sharma’s name,” said a member.
However, Sharma’s name featured in the final list of shortlisted candidates that was put out, along with the other three names. Only Sharma was eventually appointed. “The question is how did the IQAC introduce his name when the Screening Committee did not select him? The work of the IQAC is to check whether candidates have the required API score, etc, but the academic judgement is done by teachers who form the Screening Committee,” said a member.
The Selection Committee which okayed Sharma’s appointment included the Vice-Chancellor, Dean of SC&SS T V Vijay Kumar, three external experts, a visitor’s nominee and an OBC observer. Asked about the allegations, IQAC Director Arun Kharat said, “I won’t able to tell you anything unless I look at the documents.” Sharma and V-C M Jagadesh Kumar did not respond to calls and texts by The Indian Express. T V Vijay Kumar refused to comment.
A JNU official said, “The outside experts names were approved in the AC and EC. As for the Screening Committee list, it was sent to the IQAC for review after Sharma’s name was rejected.”