This is an addition to the expose by this author on Colombo Telegraph dated August 20, 2022, and a Tamil version of the same on jaffnafashion.com about the intellectual, immoral, and unethical frauds committed by the incumbent Vice-Chancellor of the University of Jaffna, namely Sivakolundu Srisatkunarajah.
A Senior Lecturer in Botany at the University of Jaffna (UoJ), by a letter dated September 25, 2018, addressed to the then Vice-Chancellor (VC), voluntarily resigned from her job with effect from December 26, 2018, citing ill-health. The then Council of the UoJ accepted her resignation after having reminded her of the “consequences” of premature retirement/resignation and her voluntary acceptance of such “consequences”.
However, by a letter dated December 14, 2018, addressed to the then VC, this particular Senior Lecturer retracted her earlier letter of resignation dated September 14, 2018, and requested the Council to let her continue her job at the UoJ (see the foregoing communications here). This retraction was supported by the then Dean of the Faculty of Technology, Sivakolundu Srisatkunarajah (incumbent VC), at the Council meeting and got her reinstated without undergoing any formal procedures for recruitment/reinstatement and undertaking medical tests to confirm her fitness to work as a senior academic staff.
Ironically, within a month after being illegally reinstated in late-2018, she was provided two-years of sabbatical leave (with full pay and allowances) until January 2021 by the then Council. Having returned, in earnest in January 2021 after her sabbatical leave, she was unable to take lectures or practical classes to her students supposedly due to ill-health. In spite of written objections by the Head of the Department of Botany (HoD), she was/is given full salary and allowances, including research allowance by the incumbent VC Srisatkunarajah, for doing virtually nothing. Unfortunately, the students of Botany have been severely affected, and indeed cheated, by the enduring non-performance of this particular Senior Lecturer.
In lieu of taking tangible action against this non-working staff for “dereliction of duty” and “inefficiency” in terms of the Establishment Code, VC Srisatkunarajah has been verbally abusing and maligning the HoD of Botany publicly at the Senate meetings, Council meetings, and Examination Board meetings since early-2021.
One day in mid-2021, VC Srisatkunarajah reportedly summoned the HoD and verbally instructed him in front of the Deputy Registrar-Academic Establishments to ignore substandard, outdated, and/or plagiarised contents of the lectures by this particular Senior Lecturer and give her easy assignments (these oral instructions were duly audio recorded by the Deputy Registrar-Academic Establishments). At the same meeting, VC Srisatkunarajah has also reportedly told the HoD Botany that there are so many academic staff in the Faculty of Arts, such as this particular Senior Lecturer in Botany, who do not turn up for duties or lectures on time, and who copy other people’s books and claim to be theirs and got promoted to professorship, inter alia.
What the VC Srisatkunarajah failed to tell the HoD of Botany is that the promotion of a senior academic staff to the post of professor in the Faculty of Arts, who had copied others’ books and published as his own, has been challenged in the University Services Appeals Board (USAB – Appeal No.1000) in December 2019 by this author, and the order on which is expected before the end of 2022. Secondly and most importantly, ethically, legally, and morally, one person’s wrong cannot justify another person’s wrong; alternatively, ”two wrongs do not make a right“. The fact that a moron who does not understand the foregoing ethical/legal/moral principle is holding the post of Vice-Chancellor of the University of Jaffna, viz. Sivakolundu Srisatkunarajah, is a disgrace to the entire academic community in Sri Lanka in general, and an absolute disgrace to the entire Tamil community in particular.
In defiance of the aforesaid verbal instructions and malicious nudging by the VC, the HoD of Botany continued to complain to the VC and Council as well as higher authorities outside the UoJ, such as the University Grants Commission (UGC), National Audit Office, Hon. Prime Minster, and HE the President for the past several months highlighting the loss of precious public resources (tax payers’ money) by employing a non-working university teacher at the UoJ (see one such latest communication here). Additionally, the students of Botany (particularly the students of Plant Breeding) have been collectively deprived of their fundamental right to quality education through the UoJ. None of the authorities inside (VC/Council/Dean) or outside (UGC/National Audit Office) the University of Jaffna have taken any tangible action to date against the blatant abuse of power and utter wastage of public money by the incumbent Vice-Chancellor Sivakolundu Srisatkunarajah. However, it is heartening to note that the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) is currently investigating this matter.
For instance, for more than two-and-half months this year the aforesaid Senior Lecturer has absconded without informing the HoD, Dean, or any other authority; yet she was paid the full salary plus all the allowances, including the research allowance by the Vice-Chancellor disregarding the written objections by the HoD. The HoD claims to have written 8 letters over the past six months to the Vice-Chancellor and the Council asking them to take necessary action against this non-working/performing Senior Lecturer through the appointment of an independent panel to investigate this utter waste of public money and the deprivation of learning by the students (see one such latest communication here).
Finally, having mischievously obtained the concurrence from a docile, subservient, and compliant Council, by a letter dated August 27, 2022, the VC of UoJ, Sivakolundu Srisatkunarajah, has illegally dismissed the HoD of Botany from his post with immediate effect without holding any inquiry against him “as you transcend the limits of the Head of the Department, violated all the communication protocols and implicated the University by writing to various authorities bypassing the official communication channels.” This is a blatant abuse of power by a power-hungry and unqualified (in terms of research output and professional ethics cum integrity) Vice-Chancellor against a whistleblowing HoD, which violates ‘natural justice’ and lacks ‘due process’.
In fact, there is no such thing as “communication protocols” or “official communication channels” in the statutes of the Universities Act No.16 of 1978, by-laws of the UoJ, or the Establishment Code (E-Code) for University and Higher Education Institutional staff. This is just a figment of imagination by an unscrupulous and scandalous Vice-Chancellor Sivakolundu Srisatkunarajah.
It is true that the public servants are barred from talking to the media about certain matters (for example, on matters of national security) under an Establishment Code (E-Code) for public servants enshrined during the British colonial period, which is still in force in Sri Lanka. To the best of the knowledge of this author, such restrictions do not apply to university or higher education institutional academic staff who have the inalienable right to critique anyone (including the government in office or the head of state), and are fully entitled to academic freedom. Moreover, the complaints made by the HoD of Botany was to government watchdogs and NOT the media (until his dismissal).
Much more importantly, the HoD of Botany’s written complaints about the VC and the Council of the UoJ were to watchdogs set-up by the government (UGC, National Audit Office, and CIABOC) to which any citizen of Sri Lanka has inalienable right to complain about public institutions including public universities. In any case, under the circumstances that ALL official written communications (8) by the HoD of Botany to the Dean of Science, Vice-Chancellor, and the Council of the University of Jaffna have not been satisfactorily replied to, the HoD (indeed any university staff) is perfectly entitled to take-up the matter to higher government authorities (including political authorities). Moreover, any dismissal from a post in the public sector (including in the universities), or indeed in the private sector, has to be carried out ONLY after a valid and proper inquiry into any alleged misconduct by a member of the staff. The VC in particular, and the Council in general, has NO legal authority to unilaterally and abruptly dismiss anyone from her/his post.
Therefore, the abrupt removal of the HoD of Botany from that post on August27, 2022, purportedly by the Council (of course on the instigation of the VC, who is the ex-officio Chair of the Council) is ILLEGAL beyond any reasonable doubt. We learn that the dismissed HoD of Botany has made a formal complaint against his dismissal from the post of HoD to the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka which is investigating the matter expeditiously. The HoD of Botany has also formally lodged an appeal against his dismissal at the University Services Appeals Board (USAB).
The Dean of the Faculty of Science, who was concurrently appointed as the Acting Head of Botany effective from August 27, 2022, has been instructed by the VC Srisatkunarajah to offer the teaching of the subject ‘Plant Breeding’ to the Senior Lecturer who is at the centre of the illegal activities by the VC, just one week before the end of the semester. On the recommendation of an External Examiner from the University of London, the former VC at an official forum in 2018 had instructed the then HoD not to assign any honours degree subjects to her because of her total incompetence to teach those subjects. It is also noteworthy that the Senior Lecturer in Botany under scrutiny has not earned a Ph.D. to date even after 30 years of service (rather disservice) at the UoJ.
A number of students of Plant Breeding/Botany have protested against the aforesaid instruction by the VC Srisatkunarajah to the Dean of the Faculty of Science as noted in this letter of protest by the students. In spite of the students’ protest, the Dean of the Faculty of Science continues to browbeat the students of Plant Breeding to attend the lectures by this External Examiner-designated incompetent Senior Lecturer. The Students’ Union of the University of Jaffna, in a letter dated September 10, 2022, has raised serious concerns to the Vice-Chancellor, Sivakolundu Srisatkunarajah, about the abusive and threatening behaviour of the incumbent Dean of the Faculty of Science who occasionally doubles-up as “Acting Vice-Chancellor” by courtesy of the VC Srisatkunarajah.
In an email interview in Tamil to the Jaffna-based Uthayan newspaper published on September 15, 2022, the VC Srisatkunarajah has told that, if the payments to the non-working Senior Lecturer in Botany is found to be wrongful, such illegal payments will be reimbursed to the university. The foregoing statement of the VC could be read as a tacit acceptance of guilt by the VC as well as the Council of the University of Jaffna which is disgraceful.
*This author is proposing to compile a book on the academic and intellectual fraud committed by the past and present academic staff (particularly Emeritus Professors, Senior Professors, Professors, and Senior Lecturers) of the University of Jaffna to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Jaffna Campus of the University of Sri Lanka on January 01, 1974. Any information with relevant documentary evidence by the STUDENTS and STAFF can be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org I assure complete anonymity to any such information received and used in the prposed compilation.