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IIT heads to vote for themselves
- Directors invited to meet to ratify appointments

New Delhi, Jan. 25: The HRD ministry has invited the directors of the seven older IITs to ratify their own appointments, under a cloud following a Madras High Court order challenging their selection.

The directors have been invited to vote in a special meeting of the IIT Council on January 28 to ratify their appointments, top government officials have said.

By voting, or participating, the directors may be in a position to influence the ratification of their own appointments.

The meeting is being held at a time the appointment of the IIT Madras director is sub judice, challenged by arguments equally valid for the directors of all other IITs.

The meeting will be the first in the IITs’ history that the council will debate the validity of a decision sanctioned by a higher authority — the President of India. It is the first meeting of the council since the UPA came to power.

Directors, under the IIT Act are to be appointed by the council, the highest decision-making body for the institutions.

But as reported first by The Telegraph on December 25, 2008, HRD minister Arjun Singh, as chairman of the council, appointed directors to all seven IITs without consulting the rest of the governing body.

The approval in each case was sent to the President, who as the Visitor to the IITs, is the final sanctioning authority. The President’s office approved the appointments, but the President’s signature was missing.

In December 2008, Madras High Court rejected the reappointment of IIT Madras director M.S. Ananth, given a second term in mid-2007, citing violations of the IIT Act. That order has since been stayed on a ministry appeal.

“The council’s January 28 meeting is essential as the arguments given by the court in striking down Ananth’s reappointment would make the appointments of all seven directors invalid if we lose the appeal,” a ministry source said.

The ministry’s move to ignore the council was a key argument cited in spiking the reappointment of Ananth.

The council includes all current directors. Its composition doesn’t allow re-appointments as incumbents can influence the decision, the court had said.

Apart from Ananth, IIT Kanpur director Sanjay Dhande and IIT Guwahati Director Gautam Barua have been given a second term. Of the seven older IITs — in Kharagpur, Mumbai, Kanpur, Chennai, Delhi, Guwahati and Roorkee — only the current director of IIT Bombay has been appointed after inviting public applications. But he, too, wasn’t put in the post by the council.

The Constitution requires the government to advertise posts to allow all those qualified an equal opportunity, the court said, giving another argument for dismissing Ananth’s reappointment.

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