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Monday, September 20, 2021

IIM Director at end of term, his undergrad degree still not with Centre

Records show that the Education Ministry has written twice to IIM Rohtak Director Dheeraj Sharma this year asking him for verified copies of his educational certificates to which the Director hasn’t replied. This even as the Centre defends his appointment in court against allegations of ineligibility.

Written by Ritika Chopra | New Dehi, New Delhi |
Updated: September 17, 2021 5:16:48 pm
IIM rohtak director dheeraj sharmaDheeraj Sharma’s appointment has been challenged in the Punjab & Haryana High Court. The petitioner has alleged that the Director, among other things, misrepresented his educational qualifications and is ineligible to hold the post.

BARELY five months are left for the five-year term of Director, Indian Institute of Management, Rohtak, to end, and the Union Government is still trying to get hold of his undergraduate degree.

Records show that the Education Ministry has written twice to IIM Rohtak Director Dheeraj Sharma this year asking him for verified copies of his educational certificates to which the Director hasn’t replied. This even as the Centre defends his appointment in court against allegations of ineligibility.

The Ministry’s first letter went out February 18, a reminder (on not receiving Sharma’s response) was sent June 28.

Sharma’s appointment has been challenged in the Punjab & Haryana High Court. The petitioner has alleged that the Director, among other things, misrepresented his educational qualifications and is ineligible to hold the post.

A first-class Bachelor’s degree is a pre-requisite for getting appointed as Director. However, while the Education Ministry has copies of Sharma’s MBA degree from Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar University and PhD degree from Louisiana Tech University (LTU), US, it has no official record of his undergraduate degree. It’s not clear how Sharma’s appointment was approved in February 2017 without this document.

The Ministry’s senior counsel, it has been learnt, who is representing the government in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, advised the government to obtain Sharma’s undergraduate degree and file it in court to “negate the primary contention of the petitioner” regarding his educational qualification.

In its affidavit finally filed in February this year, the government defended the appointment and urged the court to dismiss the plea saying the petitioners have no locus standi. It said that none of the 60 applicants for the Director’s job had challenged the appointment.

The Ministry filed copies of Sharma’s MBA and PhD degrees but not his undergraduate degree. Subsequently, it sent him two reminders.

When asked by The Indian Express about this missing degree, Sharma declined to comment.

Sources close to him said he had provided the Ministry “whatever it needed” to verify his eligibility. He holds an undergraduate degree from Delhi University, the source added.

The Education Ministry did not respond to an email asking how Sharma’s appointment was approved without his Bachelor’s degree on record and what had it done in the absence of a reply from Sharma.

Asked if Sharma had submitted proof of his Bachelor’s degree at the time of seeking admission to its PhD programme, LTU Legal Counsel Justin Kavalir said that he did since it is “required with the application”.

“Due to record retention, copies for this student would not be kept any longer. If we did, they would not be released,” Kavalir wrote in an email reply to The Indian Express.

Sharma got his PhD in 2006.

He was appointed Director of IIM-Rohtak on February 10, 2017. Before that he was a professor at IIM, Ahmedabad. According to the institute’s website, Sharma’s “primary research interests are ‘relationships’ in the business domain.”

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