Fresh evidence has surfaced against Minister of Higher Education Lakshman Kiriella over yet another order made by him to the Rajarata University in January this year which contravenes the fair recruitment policy pledged by the Yahapalana government.
In a letter dated January 12, 2016 Kiriella ordered the university to employ S. A. Nirosha Nayanangani Subasinghe as a labourer who was shortlisted for the position.
“During the interview, if she had the relevant other qualifications required for the post, employ her regardless of her age,” the letter signed by Kiriella stated.
An activist highlighted that it appeared the government is going against its initial pledge of following a fair recruitment policy. “They promised a fair recruitment policy at the elections, but they are not following it,” Civil Society activist Dharanee Ranaraja told Colombo Telegraph.
In his election manifesto, President Maithripala Sirisena said that autonomy will be granted to Universities and University Senates and they will be given the power to appoint and remove Vice Chancellors according to their policies.
Kiriella who is embroiled in a controversy for using his political influence to make a university appointment has justified his attempts claiming that in accordance to article 19 of the university act, the minister had the authority to make recommendations to university positions.
Yesterday, a journalist came under abuse when he contacted the minister to verify the authenticity of the letter reportedly sent by Kiriella to the head of the political science department of the Kelaniya University. Kiriella, who abused the journalist from the ‘Ada’ newspaper demanded the journalist to first read the University Act, where according to Kiriella he has the power to make such appointments.
Article 19 of the Universities Act says; “The Minister shall be responsible for the general direction of university education and the administration of this Act.” While Article 20 (1) (a) says; “The Minister may from time to time issue to the Commission such general written directions as he may deem necessary in pursuance of national policy in matters such as finance, university places and medium of instruction, to enable him to discharge effectively, his responsibility for university education and the administration of this Act. Every such direction shall as soon as possible be tabled in Parliament.”
“How can we interpret these interference to the fair recruitment policy under the article 19 of the Universities Act? Did the minister table these letters in Parliament?,” Dharanee Ranaraja questioned.
The activist noted that it seems that either Kiriella does not understand the University Act, or was knowingly flouting the guidelines by appointing his supporters to the University Governing Councils, as temporary lecturers and also as labourers. “We still don’t know what else he has done interpreting the article 19 of the Universities Act” she said.