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IIT-Delhi vs HRD: Govt says will probe director, institute backs him

The MoU, which has Shevgaonkar’s signatures, provides for greater scope of IIT-Delhi than the Act permits.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: December 30, 2014 2:07:46 pm

A day after a row erupted over the resignation of IIT-Delhi Director Raghunath K Shevgaonkar, the institute hit back at reports that Shevgaonkar quit after an inquiry was initiated into the IIT-Delhi’s research centre in Mauritius and claimed he had left due to “personal reasons”, even as sources in the Ministry of Human Resource Development said his resignation is unlikely to be accepted till an inquiry into the matter is concluded.

HRD Ministry officials claimed the MoU between the Mauritius Research Council (MRC) and IIT-Delhi for setting up an International Institute of Technology Research Academy (IITRA) in Mauritius “violates the IIT Act”. Officials said an inquiry is being conducted by Higher Education Secretary S N Mohanty. They said the MoU, which has Shevgaonkar’s signatures, provides for greater scope of IIT-Delhi than the Act permits.

While the ministry has said that an inquiry has been on for over a month, it has not formally stated that there has been a violation.

In a statement issued on Monday evening, IIT-Delhi sought to clarify its stand and claimed there was no violation in setting up IITRA. “IITRA is not an extension campus of IIT-Delhi. It is an independent research academy named ‘International Institute of Technology Research Academy, Mauritius’… IIT-Delhi’s role is only advisory in nature… There is no financial commitment on part of IIT-Delhi,” said the statement.

It claimed the original proposal for starting the institute in Mauritius came on the recommendation of the IIT Council in its meeting held on January 21, 2011. “The final MoU was okayed by MHRD and it was signed in presence of the then Hon’ble HRM and the functionaries from MHRD and Indian High Commission, on 19-11-2013 in Mauritius,” it said.

“As per the MoU, senate approval and the approval of the steering committee of IITRA, IIT-Delhi will admit students for IITRA as per norms of IIT-Delhi and award all degrees on successful completion of academic programs (research only) by all students registered at IIT-Delhi till year 2018. The maximum number of students is limited to 50… Resignation of Director, IIT-Delhi is due to his personal reasons and not connected to the above issue and any other matter being reported in the press,” said the IIT-Delhi statement, detailing the entire “chronological sequence of events for setting up” IITRA.

Contrary to the ministry’s claims that the MoU did not have the MEA’s sanction, the statement cited correspondence between MEA and MHRD on the issue in June 2011.

IIT-Delhi also sent a communication to the HRD Ministry, with a detailed sequence of events supported by 10 annexures on the MoU.
Meanwhile, a meeting of the executive committee of the IIT faculty forum on Monday “remained inconclusive”, with the forum demanding Shevgaonkar’s clarification. According to those present at the meeting, forum members told the administration that they could only take a decision after Shevgaonkar explains his position and gives details about the ministry’s alleged interference in the institution’s autonomy. Sources said Shevgaonkar has indicated that he would talk to the forum after 10 days, when he “returns from leave”.

The IIT-Delhi Alumni Association came out in support of Shevgaonkar on Monday. “It is further resolved that IIT-Delhi Alumni Association is fully behind the Director and requests him to continue leading this illustrious institution to greater heights… We resolve that the autonomy of the IIT system being extremely important for the development of the nation, should not be interfered in by the HRD Ministry,” said a resolution adopted by the association.

On Sunday, the ministry denied reports that Shevgaonkar had resigned following pressure from the HRD Ministry to release nearly Rs 70 lakh to former IIT-Delhi faculty Subramanian Swamy, who is now a BJP functionary, as salary dues for the period between 1972 and 1991. The ministry said it did not forward any such request to IIT-Delhi, and it only sought the views of the DoPT and Finance Ministry on the issue.

The ministry has written to the DoPT seeking to know whether Swamy’s case falls under 54(A) of General Financial Rules and Service Rules and whether he can be granted “extraordinary leave” for the period 1972-1991 for which he has sought salary dues.
Swamy, who was sacked by IIT-Delhi in 1972, was reinstated in service in 1991 by court orders. Swamy later filed a suit in court seeking recovery of salary and allowances in revised grade from the date of his termination to the date of his reinstatement, and demanded an interest of 18 per cent per year.

IIT-Delhi, however, rejected his claim since he had not furnished details of the amount earned from his employment between December 11, 1972 to March 27, 1991. In December 2013, the Delhi High Court had rejected IIT-Delhi’s plea to dismiss Swamy’s suit.

According to sources, Shevgaonkar, who resigned with more than two years of his tenure left, was not in favour of any out-of-court settlement with Swamy.

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