The central government of India has denied the services of Prof. Swaranjit Singh Cameotra, a senior scientist Institute at the Chandigarh-based Institute of Microbial Technology (IMTECH), for fabricating data in his articles published in a US journal. In the year 2013 three articles were published in a scientific journal PLOS ONE and as a result of data fabrication, all the three papers were denied by the journal in July 2014.
IMTECH, a laboratory of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), for the first time, has taken a big step of terminating the services of a senior professor. According to the sources from the Ministry of Science and Technology claimed that the committee headed by CSIR Director General confirmed Swaranjit’s dismiss and also the refusal of pension benefits.
Getting deep into the details, data fabrication was found in 4 more papers where Singh was the senior author. The journal PLOS ONE in the retraction note published in 2014 said, “The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has carried out an investigation about several publications by this group (led by Dr Cameotra) to evaluate concerns raised about the authenticity of the data. The investigation committee… concluded that there are no data available underlying this study and thus the published results are fabricated. As a result, (CSIR) has requested the retraction of the publication.”
Mr R K Sinha, who has the additional charge as Director of IMTECH, stated that it was not easy to take a decision in the removal of a government employee, “There was a thorough enquiry by 2-3 committees and they found hard evidence… every committee gave a clear-cut decision.”
Throwing light, the matter came out when a Georgia-tech, Prof. Jim Spain wrote to former Director Dr Girish Sahni in 2015 about the odds in the data of three articles published in the journal. Jim informed that a student of Singh, Mr Khan had been doing his post-doctorate in the US and worked with him for some time. And then Khan joined IMTECH as soon as he returned to India. The articles published were from the Jim Spain’s laboratory and under investigation, the authorities found that the data was cooked-up. And in the inquiry, it was found that Dr Khan was responsible for data fabrication. Dr. Khan has since quiet IMTECH.
Dr. Cameotra has appealed the Directed General of CSIR to reconsider the decision. So, he will still be able to apply for any other government job. When he was asked to speak out, he just said-“I have no comments.” According to few sources, he admitted that though he had no data to substantiate, as a senior, he failed to check the data whether it was correct or not.