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Mridusmita Deka|Mar 23, 2023
NEW DELHI: Even after three years of his retirement from the Delhi University, Pondicherry University Vice Chancellor Gurmeet Singh continues to occupy the official accommodation allotted to him by his former employer with Rs 23 lakh pending in dues, according to official documents.
However, Singh claimed that initially, the delay to vacate the accommodation at the Delhi University (DU) North Campus was due to Covid-induced lockdowns, and then later due to incorrect calculation of dues by the varsity as well as paucity of time at his end. He also accused the varsity of treating him unfairly and holding Rs 50 lakh of his retirement funds. The latest notice to Singh asking him to vacate the 'Type-5' bungalow at the Delhi University's North Campus' Cavalry Lines was sent by the varsity last week.
The DU in its ninth notice to Singh since his retirement also said if the property is not vacated, actions such as "disconnection of electricity and water connection" to the bungalow would be taken.
"Neither you have vacated the university accommodation nor you have cleared outstanding dues towards damage charges applicable at the rate of 50 times the normal license fees plus water charges. Government of India rules don't permit stay after retirement beyond six months," said the DU notice to Singh.
"On the contrary, you have overstayed for a period of over 2 years and 9 months without even paying the penal rent. This has been viewed seriously by the university authorities," it said. The DU claimed that the Pondicherry University vice chancellor owes it Rs 23.70 lakh in penal rent and water charges. A reputed expert in the fields of corrosion chemistry and nanofilm deposition, Singh had taken charge as Pondicherry University vice chancellor in 2017 and has been granted an extension of one year in September last year.
In addition, Singh is also the vice chancellor of the Gandhigram Rural Institute, a deemed-to-be university in Tamil Nadu. He retired from the Delhi University in October 2019 and was supposed to vacate the official accommodation by April 2020.
Singh confirmed that he has an accommodation at the Pondicherry University too. "I have served the Delhi university for over 43 years in various capacities and my retirement dues worth Rs 50 lakh are still pending with the university. My grace period to vacate the accommodation ended in April 2020, however, COVID-19-induced lockdowns and movement restrictions did not allow me to vacate the residence and I have been duly informing the university about it despite them treating me unfairly" Singh told PTI.
"For the past five months, I have been getting letters and notices which have unparliamentary language and this propaganda against me is being spread with an ulterior motive. The amount quoted to me for pending dues is incorrect and I have asked for a correction. Once that is done, I will settle the dues and vacate the accommodation at the earliest," he said.
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Singh also said being at the helm of affairs at two important universities and personal exigencies also left him with little time. The Delhi University had in October last year issued an eviction order to Singh terming his act as "grave misconduct."
"There is a long pending queue of the officials who are waiting for allotment of university flat or bungalow and are in dire need of accommodation and therefore, any occupant who is holding the premises in an unauthorised manner beyond the stipulated time creates an impediment for the administration," it said.
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"This act of the respondent is grave misconduct. Such an act after serving the institution for so many years calls for introspection," said the eviction order issued by the Delhi University's Court of Estate Officer. The eviction order further noted that a "sitting vice chancellor misusing his authority and holding the accommodation in an unauthorised manner beyond stipulated time sets a very bad example for the society and the academic community".
Defying administrative processes and legal proceedings is serious misconduct and not expected for a person holding public office", it said.
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