JNU prof contends plagiarism plea filed with private interest

New Delhi: A Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) associate professor contended in the Delhi High Court that the plea making allegations of plagiarism against him was not maintainable as it was filed with a private interest in mind.

A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice C Hari Shankar was informed by the professor’s counsel that his book was an edited version of his thesis and almost the same piece of research work, and sought dismissal of the plea saying it was “only a personal dispute” with the petitioner.

The court was hearing a plea seeking removal of JNU associate professor SK Ishtiaque Ahmed from his post in the Centre for Persian and Central Asian Studies alleging that he had plagiarised works of several authors in his PhD thesis as well as in a book on Iranian politics.

“This showed that the petitioner has a malafide intention to malign and confuse the university authorities that had already acted upon the previous complaint of 25 April 2017 made by the petitioner,” the professor said in an affidavit filed before the court.

The petition by Nadeem Akhtar, a PhD research scholar in the same department of the varsity, had alleged that despite the instances of plagiarism being brought to the attention of the JNU, no action was taken, and the person concerned was promoted from assistant professor to his current position of associate professor.

The professor sought dismissal of the petition saying there was no bonafide interest of the petitioner in this litigation, and it was only a personal dispute with him.

The court listed the matter for further hearing on 13 August after JNU’s counsel Kushal Kumar said the university filed its response on Thursday and it was yet to come on record.

The court had earlier asked the JNU to file a status report in the matter after conducting an inquiry and also initiate criminal action, if the professor was found in the wrong.

The plea has alleged that “a huge chunk of his (professor’s) thesis is lifted verbatim from 15 different sources. The respondent 3 (professor) has not only plagiarised texts and footnotes from various books of writers in his PhD thesis, but has also plagiarised the conclusion of his thesis using the conclusion of an eminent writer, as his own.”

Apart from that, the petition has also sought quashing of the PhD degree awarded in Persian language in 2000 to the professor. As an interim relief, the plea has sought directions to the university to cease his duties as research supervisor at any level and not to assign any classes till the outcome of this petition.

It has sought that the professor be prohibited from supervising and guiding any MPhil or PhD student in the university during the pendency of the plea.