In one of the first such decisions under the new dispensation at the Centre, it is learnt that the Smriti Irani-led Union Human Resource Development Ministry has asked one of its Joint Secretaries, Jagmohan Singh Raju, to leave the ministry.
On June 10, the ministry issued a circular handing over the charge of Raju’s work to another Joint Secretary. While Raju’s office has been maintaining that the Joint Secretary is on medical leave, sources confirmed that he is set to apply for voluntary repatriation to his cadre and is unlikely to come back to the HRD ministry.
The move to drop Raju comes almost a month after former HRD minister and BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi wrote to the President alleging ‘manipulation’ by the ministry in the process of appointing new vice-chancellors to 12 new Central universities and demanding that the selection process be scrapped and left to the next government.
Raju, a Tamil Nadu cadre 1985 batch IAS officer, was until June 6 handling issues related to Central universities. His bureau is currently busy with the appointment process for new V-Cs to 12 Central universities and the controversial four-year undergraduate programme of the University of Delhi. He came on Central deputation in March 2009 and completed his term in March this year. Raju was given an extended tenure of one year ahead of elections in March.
While several attempts were made to contact Raju, he did not respond to phone calls and messages. The ministry has been for a while in the middle of an exercise to appoint 15 V-Cs — most of them to Central universities set up in 2009. Top jobs at the Central universities of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Punjab, Bihar, Gujarat, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Orissa, H N Bahuguna University in Uttarakhand and Hari Singh Gour University in Sagar were to fall vacant on March 1. However, due to delays on part of the ministry, the selection could not be done on time.
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Joshi in his letter in May had alleged that the composition of the search-cum-selection committees was improper and done with undue haste. He termed the exercise as ‘disturbing’, indicating there was ‘manipulation’ at work in the ministry. Joshi had pointed fingers at how certain search committees were chaired by conveners who were junior to other members of the committee, how some committees were headed by college principals and not persons of high stature, and how a a certain V-C was a member of a search committee of another university where she was also in the fray for the V-C’s job.
Raju was earlier handling the adult education bureau in the ministry. Early this year he began handling the charge of Central varsities. During his brief tenure, handling 44 Central universities, the controversy over selection committees apart, the ministry also had to reverse its decision to extend the tenure of V-Cs in those varsities beyond their one year term and until new V-Cs were appointed. More recently, Raju is said to have had a standoff with the University Grants Commission over routing of funding to Central varsities with the official advocating an IIT-like model in which funding goes through the ministry.