With the Meghalaya police filing chargesheet against eleven officials from the now closed CMJ University, including its Chancellor Chandra Mohan Jha, the shocking case of selling fake university degrees and certificates, of rampant academic fraud and forgery — will now unfold in court in the coming days. The scam was exposed more than two years back by Ranjit Shekhar Mooshahary who was then Governor of Meghalaya. After he took a tough, uncompromising stand against the bazaar of fake university degrees CMJ University was brazenly operating, the Raj Bhavan filed an FIR. In just one academic year 2012-13, this ‘university’ awarded 434 PhDs, establishing a dubious record that one prays will never ever be surpassed. CMJU would surely have outdone itself the next academic year itself for which it had admitted 490 ‘research scholars’. After the case was taken over by the CID, skeletons began tumbling out of the closet right and left. There were unbelievable scenes when CID sleuths raided strong rooms inside the CMJU campus in Shillong in July 2013. Over 4,000 printed theses were seized on a diverse range of subjects from the arts and humanities to gyecology and pharmaceutical science. A further 6,000 were seized at the varsity’s campus at Jorabat. What came to light was a well-oiled mechanism to churn out PhDs with industrial efficiency, for a price. There were prelimiry reports of some cheats paying up to Rs 1.5 lakh for a fake PhD degree. The CMJU scamsters fixed rates for engaging research guides, arranging viva voces and for each and every stage of getting the research done and theses printed in Kolkata. After the scandal broke, a deeply embarrassed Meghalaya government dissolved CMJU on March 31 last year.
However, there were questions galore — how did CMJU come about in 2009 under a State Act? In which powerful quarters in Shillong did one-time contractor Chandra Mohan Jha pull strings to get permission for establishing a university, of which he appointed himself Chancellor? And how did this academic racket operate under the very nose of the University Grants Commission, with its supposedly foolproof system of assessing and accrediting institutions of higher learning? Did the CMJU authority mage to influence this UGC procedure too, in return for hefty ‘considerations’ to the right people? Hopefully, these disturbing aspects will come to light in court as it begins hearing the case. But the searchlight should be more upon Assam now, where several CMJU doctorate degree holders allegedly maged to bag teaching positions in colleges while some senior school teachers were promoted as principals. When the previous State Education minister took a hardline against teachers with ‘off-campus’ PhDs, he made a telling observation that when such teachers were departmentally confronted — they pleaded to be excused in the me of ‘humanity’ and some even threatened suicide! Reportedly the fake PhDs of many such teachers were cancelled, though their jobs were not put on the line. Some teachers revealed that they took recourse to such backdoor means for a doctorate on the ‘advice’ of Education officials in Kahilipara, and later paid those officials handsomely for their counsel after regularisation of jobs. What comes through is a shameful ignorance of what research truly means, and a cavalier attitude to research among a section of teachers. The CMJU has been uprooted, but there are still some other such fake universities reportedly operating in the State as coaching centres. The State government must take a ‘zero tolerance’ stand against such academic scamsters. And it is for every research scholar to respect and value their endeavour, for the progress of mankind is based on true research.