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The minimum eligibility for the post was changed. Many speculate it was done to benefit Sharma
Update: Saurabh Kumar Sharma’s appointment as an assistant professor in the Department of Computational and System Sciences, JNU has been cancelled. The reason cited for cancellation is Sharma’s inability to meet the criteria mentioned in the advertisement for the post. Along with Sharma, the appointment of three other candidates has been cancelled for failing to meet the criteria.
Saurabh Kumar Sharma, former joint secretary of Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union, has been appointed as an assistant professor in JNU amid speculations about his appointment being undemocratic.
According to the information shared by Newslaundry’s internal source, Saurabh Sharma applied for the post of an assistant professor in three different schools– School of Computer and Systems Sciences, School of Computational and Integrative Sciences and School of Physical Sciences.
This is not the first time Saurabh Kumar Sharma is in the limelight. In the 2016 controversy surrounding JNU, Saurabh insisted that Kanhaiya Kumar raised anti-national slogans, which eventually led to the latter’s arrest under charges of “sedition”.
Reportedly, even the job criteria was changed by the selection committee to suit Sharma. In the advertisement for the job published on the university’s official website, the criteria was different than the one mentioned in the list of selected candidates. Ten professors from the School of Computer and Integrative Sciences wrote a letter opposing this change. The letter alleged that the selection committee had not followed “the minimal criteria related to essential qualifications as advertised.”
The advertisement for the post
Contrary to university norms, The New Indian Express reported in May this year, Sharma received his PhD degree within a month of appearing for his viva examination. Usually, candidates, despite clearing their thesis and viva, go through quite a few hurdles and a long period of waiting to receive their degrees. In Sharma’s case, the degree was handed to him within a month. A PhD student of the School of Computational and Integrative Sciences told Newslaundry: “I got my provisional degree in about 10 months. This is the case with all other research scholars in the university as well. However, in Saurabh’s case, his provisional degree was issued within two months of the submission of his thesis.”
The New Indian Express’ report noted: “There is also an allegation by the students and faculty of the university that Sharma’s PhD was processed in a fast-track manner so that he can apply for a newly opened faculty position in CSIS. ‘The last date to apply for this position is May 9. This could be the reason for the administration to process his PhD this quickly. The position is for an OBC candidate and Sharma falls in this category,’ says a JNU Professor who did not wish to be named.”
Sharma’s PhD supervisor, R.K. Barojan Singh, speaking on the issue said, “It depends on the evaluation department to get the thesis approved by a professor from outside the university and accordingly, the date of the viva is set.”
The change in criteria
On May 9, an advertisement for the post of assistant professor in both Reserved and Unreserved categories was posted by the School of Computational and Integrative Sciences. Another advertisement was posted by School of Computers and System Sciences for the same post. Saurabh Kumar Sharma has been shortlisted for both categories.
The criteria in the advertisement required the candidate to have a background in statistics/biostatistics or computer science/ information technology. But the selection committee of the department changed the minimum criteria without consulting the faculty. According to the new criteria, a candidate with a Master’s degree in science and a background in computational is eligible for the post.
The list of selected candidates
Saurabh has an M Tech in Computational Systems Biology and his PhD is in Neuroscience.
A professor of Computational and Integrative Sciences told Newslaundry, “A student with a degree in computation biology was not eligible in accordance with the initial criteria. However, they are eligible according to the new one.”
Saurabh has also been shortlisted as faculty in the School of Computational and System Sciences. There too, the criteria was changed by the selection committee.
A professor of the department, who asked not be named said, “I believe the criteria was changed to benefit him [Sharma], what else could be the reason?”
A senior professor said, “The way in which Saurabh’s degree was processed in a fast-paced way is a first in JNU’s history. It seems like the JNU administration has also started working day and night like the Modi government.”