IIT Kharagpur wants whistleblower out

Anubhuti Vishnoi Posted online: Friday, Jul 04, 2014 at 0000 hrs
New Delhi : More than a year after the Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry recommended that IIT Kharagpur revoke the suspension of a whistleblower professor, the institute has recommended “compulsory retirement” for Prof Rajeev Kumar.

Kumar, a professor of the Computer Science department, has had several run-ins with the institute’s administration in his bid to expose examples of conflict of interest there. On May 13, 2011, he was suspended for allegedly maligning and misrepresenting the institute.

Kumar has raised questions about the marking of students in the IIT Joint Entrance Examination, used the RTI Act to expose a fake institute being allegedly run from within the IIT Kharagpur campus, and alleged that admissions of wards of senior functionaries at the IIT were being facilitated. He has been lauded by courts for using the RTI to bring in transparency in the IIT system; the apex court once called him one of the “unsung heroes who helped improve the system”.

In a memo dated June 20, 2014, IIT Kharagpur said the Board of Governors concurred with the findings of the 2012 inquiry report that the “charges labeled against Kumar in the chargesheet hold and that Kumar violated the rules of the institute on several counts”.

“...therefore the Board of Governors at its 177th meeting held on April 28, 2014 has provisionally come to the conclusion that Kumar has been found guilt on the charges and penalty of compulsory retirement as set out under (v) of the Statute 15(9) may be imposed,” the IIT said.

Kumar termed the proposed penalty as mala fide and malicious and sought the Visitor’s intervention to quash the inquiry and the chargesheet.

Advised by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), the HRD Ministry had in February 2013 recommended that the suspension order slapped against the professor be revoked.

Initially, the ministry chose not to intervene in the matter citing autonomy of IITs in administrative and disciplinary matters. But later, it wrote to IIT Kharagpur asking it to review Kumar’s suspension order in the light of the provisions of Central Civil Services (CCS) and Classification Control and Appeal (CCA) rules and place the matter for review before the Visitor — the President of India. With the IIT refusing to comply, the ministry had sought advice from the CVC.