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Arjun axes Shimla panel

Shimla, Dec. 7: The Arjun Singh ministry has sacked the governing body council of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study a month-and-a-half after ordering a probe into alleged 'academic, financial and administrative irregularities'.

Chairperson G.C. Pandey and his 30-member team were shown the door last week. Scholars had accused Pandey, an appointee of Murli Manohar Joshi, of bias in awarding fellowships and saffronising the institute.

A new council headed by historian J.S. Grewal has been named four months before the last governing body's term was to end on March 31, 2005. The council is normally appointed for three years. Grewal took over as chairperson on November 29.

A ministry release said the new governing body council includes six vice-chancellors 'Mushirul Hasan of Jamia Millia University, Ganeshan of CIEFL, Hyderabad, Vachaspati Upadhyaya of Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha, New Delhi, C.S. Chadha of Indore University, Mrinal Miri of North Eastern Hill University, Shillong, and Arun Kumar Dave of Gujarat Vidyapeeth, Ahmedabad.

Educationists Irfan Habib, U.R. Ananthamurthy, Sabyasachi Bhattacharya, Kirti Parikh, Abhijit Sen and Balachandra Mungekar, C.P. Chandrasekhar, Ayyappa Panniker and Amarty Desai are also on the council.

Human resource development minister Arjun Singh had on October 12 ordered an investigation into the alleged irregularities at the institute following complaints. D. Bandopadhyaya, a former secretary in the Union government and executive chairperson of the Institute for Social Development was made head of the probe team.

Bandopadhyaya was asked to probe the sanction of fellowships in the last three years, particularly the jump in their number, and the seminars organised or subsidised.

The one-member inquiry panel was unhappy with institute director Bhuvan Chandel who allegedly did not co-operate. Chandel did not hand over the papers required to probe the sanctioning of fellowships during the last three years to Bandopadhyaya, sources said.

'There is no reason why we should not cooperate unless there is something wrong somewhere,' Grewal said. He has summoned the record of publications in the institute during the past 10 years to look into the saffronisation charge.

Grewal refused to comment on the dissolution of the governing body council. 'I really do not know anything about it. I do not have any political connections. I was asked to take up this assignment. I gave my consent,' he said.

Chandel, who is in Delhi, was not available for the comment. But Pandey was vocal in his protests.

'This is a deliberate attempt to play with the autonomy of the institutions like IIAS. This trend is not good for the development of institutions of higher study. I accept the decision and have no regrets on my removal,' he said on phone from Bhopal.

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