IIT appointment stuck, President enquires

The President's office has asked the human resource development ministry about the progress in implementing an appointment it had cleared more than a year ago.

By Basant Kumar Mohanty
  • Published 18.09.18
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Kovind

New Delhi: The President's office has asked the human resource development ministry about the progress in implementing an appointment it had cleared more than a year ago.

The office of the President of India Ram Nath Kovind has sought a response from the ministry, headed by Prakash Javadekar, on the progress in the appointment of nuclear scientist Anil Kakodkar as the chairman of IIT Roorkee.

Two government officials told The Telegraph that an officer on special duty in the President's office, P. Praveen Siddharth, had last month sent the letter to the HRD ministry.

In the first week of July 2017, the then President Pranab Mukherjee had cleared a proposal from the HRD ministry to appoint Kakodkar. Javadekar's ministry had also taken the consent of Kakodkar before proposing his name for the position in the IIT.

However, the HRD ministry has not issued the appointment letter till now.

"The matter is receiving attention in the office of HRM (HRD minister) for due consultation. Further queries can be posed to the HRM's office," higher education secretary R. Subrahmanyam told The Telegraph in response to an email sent to the ministry's information officer.

Satya Narayana Sahu, former press secretary to erstwhile President K.R. Narayanan, said the delay in implementation amounts to nullifying the order of the President.

"The minister is sitting for an indefinite period on the approval, thereby nullifying the approval by the President of India. This is a gross violation of norms and propriety and the legality. Once approval is given by the highest office of the Republic, it is a command which has to be executed. If that is not done, it is disrespect to the head of the state," Sahu said.

Kakodkar

The ministry may not implement an approval if the President's office suo moto withdraws it, he said. In case of the appointment of the vice-chancellor of Visva Bharati, the President's office had withdrawn its own approval last year, following which the process had restarted.

But in IIT Roorkee's case, the President's office has not been informed of non-implementation of the approval. Once the President gives the approval, the ministry usually takes one or two days to issue the order.

"Anything approved by the President has legal and constitutional sanctity, which is inviolable. Any decision by the President flows from the oath he has taken to protect and preserve the Constitution," Sahu said.

Kakodkar had resigned from the post of chairman of IIT Bombay in 2015 following a tiff with then HRD minister Smriti Irani over the selection of the directors of a few IITs.

The post of the chairman of IIT Roorkee was vacant after Ashok Misra ended his tenure early 2017.

Chairperson positions in 10 IITs are lying vacant now. They include IIT Gandhinagar, IIT Palakkad, IIT Bhilai, IIT Goa, IIT Tirupati, IIT Jammu and IIT Dharwad. IIT Gandhinagar chairman post is vacant for the past four years. In these IITs, the director takes care of the responsibilities of the chairman.

The chairman of an IIT chairs the meeting of the board of governors which takes broad decisions for the institute.

In an interview to NDTV in November 2015, Irani had claimed that Kakodkar had tried to push "his own candidate" for an IIT director. Kakodkar was heading the search-cum-selection panel for the posts of directors of IIT Patna, Bhubaneswar and Ropar. Kakodkar has described the allegations as "false".