Two-and-a-half months after a high-level Standing Complaint Scrutiny Committee of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) nullified the appointment of Hitesh V Bhatt as Principal/Director of Anand-based Institute of Rural Management and referred the matter to the Approval Bureau for action, the bureau has issued a show-cause notice to the institute as to why action should not be taken against the institute for failing to appoint a qualified Principal/director.
Speaking to The Indian Express, a member of the Approval Bureau of AICTE confirmed that the show-cause notice was issued to the institute last week. “We have given them a week’s time to respond to the notice and once we receive the response, it will be sent to an expert committee which will decide on the action and the executive council will then take action against the institute,” said the member of the approval bureau.
Earlier this year, on September 27, a four-member Standing Complaint Scrutiny Committee (SCSC) under the chairmanship of Justice (retd.) N L Tibrewal, had in an order passed on September 27, 2019, termed Bhatt’s appointment “ineligible” and referred the matter to the Approval Bureau of AICTE to proceed for taking action as per AICTE norms.
“The present Principal/Director Sh. Hitesh V Bhatt does not fulfil the eligibility criteria, as such the institute does not have qualified Principal. Hence the matter is referred to the Approval Bureau to proceed for taking action as per AICTE norms,” said the September 27 order passed by the Committee. While AICTE rules prescribe that the Principal/Director should have Ph.D or equivalent in appropriate discipline, Bhatt, did not have the same at the time of his appointment on December 1, 2017.
As per AICTE Regulations 2012, if an institute fails to have a qualified Principal/Director for a period of more than 18 months, then it shall have “No admission status for one academic year” as a punitive action by the council.
In case of IRMA, Hitesh V Bhatt has already occupied the position of Director for over 24 months now and thus the institute may face penalty under AICTE rules.
Responding to queries sent by The Indian Express, IRMA chairman’s office said that AICTE issued the show-cause notice on the basis of a complaint made by an ex-employee of IRMA that the IRMA does not have a qualified director. It said, “IRMA has responded with full justification that all the applicable norms in respect to appointment of the Director as per the prevailing AICTE Regulations had been duly followed by IRMA…In view of such fulfilment of the requirement for qualified Principal/ Director, IRMA has not violated any regulation. It further said, “IRMA is governed by IRMA Society Rules and a duly constituted Board consisting of eminent persons. The Board of IRMA is the competent authority to appoint the Director of the Institute and due process was followed by the Board in selection/appointment of its Director.”