Delhi University on Friday suspended five officials of the School of Open Learning (SOL) after Navbharat Times published what it said was the first-year SOL examination admit card of Union Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani.
Irani, who had taken admission in the BA (Political Science) course last year, did not take the first-year examination conducted this month.
Confirming the action against the officials, Malay Neerav, Delhi University media coordinator, told The Indian Express: “It has been confirmed by SOL authorities that five non-teaching staff of the School of Open Learning (SOL) have been suspended for accessing the system in an inappropriate manner and leaking confidential files without required permission from the SOL authorities.”
“All who have been suspended are from section officer rank or below. The officials themselves admitted that they had leaked the documents when they were questioned by the authorities,” Neerav said.
It is learnt that among the five, one is a section officer and the rest report to him. The authorities declined to name the officials and said a probe had been ordered.
SOL officials declined to speak on record. “The decision to suspend the officials was taken only after moving the file through all required channels. Accessing any student’s private, confidential data is a punishable crime. We will set up an inquiry committee which will look into the issue in detail,” one official said.
Irani is in the centre of a controversy over her educational qualification after it emerged that she had made contradictory declarations while contesting Lok Sabha elections in 2004 and 2014. This has led to a war of words between the Congress and BJP.
The Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) condemned the suspension of the officials. “It is very vindictive of the university to suspend officials without conducting a full inquiry. The step is harsh and should have been taken only after an inquiry,” Nandita Narain, DUTA president, said.
Delhi University Karamchari Union (DUKU) president Raj Pal said: “It is a classic case of lower officials being made a scapegoat to hide the wrongdoing of higher officials. Officials without rank have no power to access any document, let alone issue it or give it out. The school should have at least finished its inquiry before taking the decision.”