Karnataka HC declines to quash FIR against former Vice-Chancellor of KSOU

The High Court of Karnataka has declined to quash the criminal case registered against a 76-year-old former Vice-Chancellor of Karnataka State Open University (KSOU) for alleged irregularities in tie-ups with private institutions. It said there was “prima facie material to investigate the matter”.

Justice H.P. Sandesh passed the order while dismissing a petition filed by K. Sudha Rao, who was Vice-Chancellor of KSOU during 2003-2007.

The Mysuru city police had registered an FIR against the petitioner and several other former Vice-Chancellors and various private institutions. The FIR was based on a complaint lodged by the Registrar of KSOU on November 20, 2019, over the illegal signing of MoUs with private institutions beyond the territory of Karnataka.

KSOU had lodged the complaint based on the direction given by the Chancellor of the varsity after a one-man enquiry committee found grave errors in the signing of MoU with many private institutions for academic collaboration.

Based on the complaint, the court noted that a specific allegation has been made that “the university, right from the tenure of Prof. K. Sudha Rao, committed a grave error in entering into MoUs with many private persons, firms, societies, trusts, private companies etc., permitting them to admit students to various courses without seeking legal opinion from the State government”.

Multiple MoUs

The serious allegation is that the university entered into MoUs with private institutions beyond the jurisdiction of Karnataka and admitted students to various technical, paramedical, and online programmes, contrary to the provisions of the KSOU Act, guidelines/instructions issued by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, the University Grants Commission, the All India Council for Technical Education, and the Medical Council of India, the court noted.

While noting that the first two such MoUs were signed during Ms. Rao’s tenure, the court said that the “…matter has to be probed to unearth the crime” when the complaint was lodged on the Governor’s direction, based on the findings of the one-man committee.

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