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Vigilance clears IIT director

- Chakrabarti asked to be ‘careful’ in the future
P.P. Chakrabarti

New Delhi, July 26: The human resource development ministry today requested President Pranab Mukherjee, the Visitor of IIT Kharagpur, to appoint P.P. Chakrabarti as director of the tech school after he was cleared in a case of irregularity.

The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) yesterday cleared Chakrabarti, facing a minor penalty in a case of irregularity, with the caution that he should be careful in discharging his responsibilities in the future.

The CVC gave the clearance after the HRD ministry strongly backed Chakrabarti, suggesting he had not benefitted from a project involving design, development and implementation of training on an application software (Coalnet) given by Coal India Limited (CIL) to IIT Kharagpur in 2001 and 2004.

A panel headed by then HRD minister Kapil Sibal had selected Chakrabarti for the post last August. But he could not be appointed pending vigilance clearance.

Recently, IIT Kharagpur alumni had launched a campaign for his appointment as director. Last week, higher education secretary Ashok Thakur urged the CVC to give Chakrabarti the all-clear.

The CBI had found several irregularities in the Coalnet project, including that it was outsourced to another firm in violation of the MoU signed between IIT Kharagpur and CIL. A.K. Bhowmik, the dean of the department of sponsored research and industrial consultancy, was found to have outsourced the project.

Chakrabarti, who succeeded Bhowmik, continued the arrangement but “misrepresented facts and misled the CIL” when it enquired what was going on, the CBI report said.

R.N. Banerjee, the chief consultant in the project, also did not ensure compliance of the conditions mentioned in the work order, the report said.

The CBI recommended a minor penalty against Chakraborty and major ones against Bhowmik, now IIT Patna director, and Banerjee.

However, the IIT Kharagpur board of governors gave Chakrabarti a clean chit on March 23 this year. The board accepted his explanation that he had not misrepresented facts.

“The board of governors of IIT Kharagpur recommends to MHRD and CVC that the disciplinary proceedings initiated against Prof. Chakrabarti be dropped,” it said.

Sources said the institute would initiate major penalty proceedings against the two other members.