IIT-Delhi, govt differ over registrar's role
by Akshaya Mukul ,TNN 13 Oct 2008, Time of India
NEW DELHI: IIT-Delhi has been without a regular registrar for over a year now after the suspension of Rajendra Singh but the institute and the HRD ministry are maintaining silence over a law ministry opinion that powers and duties of registrar could not be delegated to anybody else.
While IIT director Surendra Prasad said his institute was unaware of any view expressed by law ministry, HRD officials said they had not yet considered the ministry's opinion. But Prasad maintained that under the Institute of Technology Act, 1961, which governs all IITs, registrar has no power. "All the powers are with the director. Registrar is just the custodian of funds and seal," he said.
Singh, who was suspended on July 27 last year on the ground that he had not paid Rs 25,000 fine as ordered by the chief information commissioner, alleged in his complaint to HRD ministry that the CIC issue was an excuse since even before the suspension, his powers were being curtailed and given to others against the provisions of the Institute of Technology Act, 1961.
Singh alleged that he was being targeted because he had asked HRD ministry to conduct an inquiry into creation of Alumni Gift Fund for "miscellaneous and unspecified purpose".
While Singh refused to talk, a senior professor involved with the whole process pointed out that at the time of suspension, the only charge against him was non-payment to RTI applicant as ordered by CIC but subsequently more charges were added.
New Delhi, Oct. 25: The chairman of the Delhi IIT board of governors threatened to resign earlier this week accusing Arjun Singh’s ministry of trampling on the institute’s autonomy.
V.S. Ramamurthy may now have been successfully coaxed by an anxious government to stay on, but his threat had triggered an unprecedented flashpoint, sources said.
The threat came after Arjun, the human resource development (HRD) minister, had earlier this month unilaterally overturned a decision by the IIT Delhi board to suspend the institute’s registrar, Colonel (retd) Rajendra Singh, the sources said.
Never has the chairman of an IIT board of governors — an Indian Institute of Technology’s highest administrative body — resigned because of a spat with the ministry in the tech schools’ nearly five-decade-long history. Nor does Ramamurthy’s threat have a precedent, the sources said.
Contacted by The Telegraph, Ramamurthy, a former secretary in the ministry of science and technology, confirmed the flare-up with the ministry over Arjun’s decision. “There were certainly some issues... but things have been sorted out,” he said.
Ministry sources, however, said they were yet to receive any official information on Ramamurthy’s decision on whether to continue as board chairman.
The IITs have had differences with the HRD ministry on many occasions but these have always related to policy matters such as the implementation of reservations for students or teachers.
A senior IIT Delhi administrative source said the institute’s board was particularly upset because the decision to reinstate the registrar was an “open slap in the face of the board”.
The revocation of the suspension order is unique because it does not involve any policy decision but reverses an administrative decision that the IIT act mandates the board to take, the source said.
“The elected government can take major policy decisions, but if people sitting in Shastri Bhavan (the ministry headquarters) are going to decide on administrative staff, then there is no need for the board,” the source said.
The registrar was suspended in 2007 after he refused to pay a sum of Rs 25,000 to an appellant under the Right to Information Act in violation of a Central Information Commission order.
In a petition to the ministry, the suspended registrar, however, alleged he was victimised because he had blown the whistle on illegal transfer of funds from the institute to an IIT alumni fund.
“The IIT possibly felt the revocation (of the suspension) cast aspersions on it by validating the registrar’s charges,” a ministry source said.