Top official at Indian university plagiarized most of paper


A top official and law researcher at a university in India is facing dismissal after being charged with plagiarizing approximately three-quarters of one of her papers, among other allegations.

Chandra Krishnamurthy, the Vice Chancellor at Pondicherry University, has been “placed under ‘compulsory wait’ by the Union human resource ministry following several charges against her,” according to The Times of India.

A nine-month long investigation by the International Journal of Legal Information confirmed that the majority of one paper on Krishnamurthy’s CV, “Legal Education and Legal Profession in India,” was largely plagiarized.

Here’s the retraction note:

NOTICE OF RETRACTION: The article, Legal Education and Legal Profession in India, 36 INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF LEGAL INFORMATION 245-64 (Summer 2008), by Chandra Krishnamurthy, has been retracted at the request of the Editor.  This paper has been removed on the grounds of plagiarism.  Please see International Journal of Legal Information: Plagiarism Policy at  This case was fully investigated and plagiarism was confirmed.  No response was obtained from the accused offender.

The journal’s Editor in Chief, Emory law professor Mark Engsberg, told us more details on how much was plagiarized:

We used Turnitin ( to analyze the paper initially and it reported that at least 72% of the article in question was plagiarized.  Segments and even whole pages of material were lifted from a number of sources, including, among others:

  • Ross Cranston, Law and Society: A Different Approach to Legal Education, 5 Monash University Law Review 54 (December 1978)
  • Justice R. D. Tulpule, Legal Education in India, 8 Journal of the Bar Council of India 94 (1981)
  • B.R. Nahata, Legal Education and Profession- an Introspection, 4 All India Reports (Journal) 83 (2002).

He elaborated on more of the backstory:

In this case, the process of investigation and review took about nine months rather than 12 months as reported in the Times of India piece.  Even so, I realize that nine months is a long time to reach a final disposition, but given the circumstances we wanted to be particularly thorough in our due diligence.  I’ve been editor of the International Journal of Legal Information for over 10 years and this is the first confirmed case of plagiarism that I have ever encountered and it is the first retraction of an article in the IJLI’s history.

One thing I should note:  Part of our process includes sending a copy of a notice of retraction to an offender’s supervisor or superior.  As the Times of India piece indicated, I am prepared to forward a copy of the notice of retraction along with supporting documents to the President of India.  That may seem extraordinary to some – I know it seems that way to me.  I have learned, however, that the President of India is Vice Chancellor Krishnamurthy’s superior, known as “Visitor”, within the Indian system of higher education, though I surmise that his supervision is nominal.  I also understand that furnishing such notice conforms with Indian protocol in such matters as much as it conforms with the IJLI’s process.

As I have mentioned previously, in every case it is disappointing and upsetting to have to deal with this kind of thing; it is particularly so when the wrongdoing comes from such a high-profile member of the academy – one who should be setting a positive example of scholarship rather than the reverse.

According to The Times of India, the government is already involved in the case:

It may be recalled that the Union ministry of human resources development [a division of the government] while placing Chandra under compulsory wait issued a showcase notice to her asking why she should not be dismissed from the post of vice-chancellor for indulging in several irregularities, misdeeds and lapses while applying for the post.

Professor S.A. Abbasi told us he alerted the journal to the plagiarism:

Yes I confirm that it was I who had done the initial research about an year ago to find that Chandra Krishnamurthy had plagiarized that paper.  I then reported the findings to the journal who conducted independent investigations for close to an year before deciding to retract that paper.

We emailed Krishnamurthy, the university and the Union Ministry of Human Resources Development to see if they had anything to add. We will update this post if we hear back.

Hat tip: The Times of India

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8 thoughts on “Top official at Indian university plagiarized most of paper”

  1. If 72% of the paper was plagarized, why was the paper published in the first place? Turnitin has been in use for a number of years. This is a high degree of plagarism. Perhaps the editor might be queried about this. Plagarism detection is usually done prior to acceptance.

    1. Plenty of journals still do not do a standard plagiarism check. For example, I am on the Editorial Board of an Elsevier journal, and I know that for that journal submissions are not screened.

    2. Please note that the number returned by Turnitin or other systems does not mean that this much of the paper was plagiarized! Each and every fragment must be evaluated to see if it is a true positive or a false positive. Don’t jump to the conclusion that 72% of the *paper* was plagiarized. Turnitin adds percentages, so many 1% matches that are often references can add up to what seems to be a lot of plagiarism.

      Also, such software can only detect text overlap with documents already in their database. If the document was not in the database at the time of submission but is now (and this can be much later than the publication date) then nothing will be recorded. And as Marco has noted, many journals do not even do a superficial check, because it is expensive. Scientists are trusted to be honest, making us all the angrier when we see so many who are not.

      1. The article states that 72% was plagarized. I’m not jumping to any conclusions, merely repeating what was stated in the explanation offered by the journal editor. Don’t correct me, correct him.

  2. To be absolutely fair to all IJLI authors and to be consistent, will professor Mark Engsberg screen all back papers for plagiarism? If not, what message would that send?

  3. In a recent blog article about whistleblower protection ( or lack thereof)

    attention is drawn to the fact that the whistleblower went outside the university and directly to the journals with his allegations.

    “K-State Provost April Mason called Craine’s allegations “malicious, or at very least, frivolous,” according to the paper, which in May reported that Mason decided Craine had gone against university policy in reporting his allegations:

    Mason told the faculty committee hearing the appeal that Craine violated Kansas State policy by first lodging criticism of fellow researchers outside the university rather than trying to resolve conflict internally.”

    Is this not a similar situation? Professor S.A. Abbasi says he went to the journal, but he is also from Pondicherry University. The outcome seems to be completely the opposite, that in India the whistleblower is not attacked, and that the allegations are taken seriously and with consequences.

    Or am I not understanding and these are different scenarios?

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