RULING OUT the possibility of an out-of-court settlement, IIT-Delhi has decided to wait for the judiciary’s verdict on the arrears claim made by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy. The institute’s Board of Governors (BoG), headed by industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla, met on Saturday to discuss the dispute that has been in the courts for over two decades. Swamy claims IIT-Delhi owes him Rs 70 lakh as salary arrears. The BoG had set up a committee under board member and Gujarat Technological University vice-chancellor Akshai Aggarwal a few months ago to explore possibilities of a quicker resolution.
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“The next hearing is in December, we want to see what the court will say. We (IIT) also want to close it (the case). We don’t want the problem to continue, but since it is in court for now, we are not able to do anything,” IIT-Delhi director V Ramgopal Rao told The Indian Express after the Board meeting. IIT-Delhi set up the committee after the HRD Ministry, in 2014, decided to revisit the 40-year-old dispute in 2014 by seeking DoPT’s views on the matter. Swamy had joined IIT-Delhi as a teacher in 1971. However, while he was on probation, the institute sacked him on the grounds that his appointment was illegal. Swamy dragged the institute to court and won the case in 1991. He rejoined IIT-Delhi on March 27, 1991, but resigned the same day and demanded his salary and allowances to the tune of Rs 70 lakh for the period between 1972 and 1991.
IIT Delhi agreed, but cited Fundamental Rule 54 of the Union government to demand details of his earnings from Harvard University, where he had taught for some time between 1972 and 1991. As per Rule 54, IIT had to only pay the difference between Swamy’s arrears and his earnings from Harvard. The politician, however, contended that he should be deemed to have been on Extraordinary Leave (EOL), which meant he is not expected to disclose his earnings from elsewhere. Swamy had approached the UPA government for relief but then education minister Kapil Sibal turned him down. He again moved the court.
After NDA-II came to power, the HRD Ministry wrote to DoPT and enquired whether the BJP leader’s case falls under 54(A) of General Financial Rules and Service Rules. In December 2014, the department said the IIT was not bound by the government’s rules, after which the BoG set up the committee under Aggarwal to explore early resolution to the dispute.
However, the NDA government’s effort seems to have come to a nought, with IIT Delhi finally deciding to wait for the court’s verdict. “They (IIT Delhi) might have set up a committee, but I had never asked them to settle (the matter out of court),” Swamy told The Indian Express. “I want the full money, plus 12 per cent interest rate. So where is the (question of) compromise? Maybe the government suggested it. The matter is in court and I will fight it there.”