The Human Resource Development Ministry is embroiled in a new controversy with nuclear scientist Anil Kakodkar, chairman of the Board of Governors of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay, putting in his papers ahead of a crucial meeting of a search-cum-selection committee, chaired by minister Smriti Irani, which was to interview candidates for directors of three IITs.
A member of the selection committee and chairman of the Standing Committee of the IIT Council (SCIC), Kakodkar resigned on March 12 after “disagreement” over the choice of an IIT director, sources said.
Sources said 37 candidates for the director’s job at IIT Patna, Bhubaneswar and Ropar were shortlisted and a dozen were called for an interview by this committee on February 16.
Sources said a consensus seemed to be emerging on the choice of directors for IIT Patna and Bhubaneswar. But there was no agreement on IIT Ropar, sources said, adding that the process involving 12 candidates was later cancelled. All 37 in the original shortlist have been called for a new round of interviews starting March 22.
Chaired by Irani, the selection committee includes, besides Kakodkar, the chairpersons of IIT Patna, Bhubaneswar and Ropar; former IIT Bombay director Ashok Mishra; and former director of IIT Madras M S Ananth.
Kakodkar’s term as IIT Bombay chairman was to end in May. When contacted, he confirmed he had put in his papers but asked why, he said: “I have spent almost nine years in this capacity. There are a lot of other things to do in life. So, I decided to resign.”
Asked if he had quit over differences with the minister over a director’s appointment, Kakodkar said: “The selection process is still on. I cannot discuss internal matters of the meeting in public.”
The Indian Express contacted HRD minister Smriti Irani who denied differences with Kakodkar. “I have personally spoken to Dr Kakodkar. His is a respected name in the field of IITs. His tenure was already ending this May and the last board meeting had already been held. On my request, he will continue in the post. There are some people who are spreading disinformation about my ministry.”
Meanwhile, IIT Delhi director Raghunath K Shevgaonkar has also written to the ministry, stating that his resignation letter dated December 22, 2014 may be accepted on completion of the mandatory three-month notice period — he had initially asked to be relieved of charge from January this year but will now continue until March 21.