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IIT Council meets today after 5 years

IIT Council meets today after 5 years

Author: Anubhuti Vishnoi
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: January 28, 2009
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/iit-council-meets-today-after-5-years/415864/

When the IIT Council meets on Wednesday, it will be the first and probably only meeting of the top governing body of all IITs during the tenure of Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh. The meeting convened at the fag end of the HRD minister's tenure, largely to avoid legal complications, will discuss a series of belated ratifications to 'regularise' all the decisions and appointments that the Ministry made bypassing it.

The IIT Council last met in September 2003 before the UPA Government was formed. In the interim period, the HRD Ministry launched its expansion programme, creating six new IITs, granting extensions of terms for a majority of IIT directors and implementing 27 per cent OBC quota across all IITs - all these decisions were taken without being routed through the Council as has been mandated.

Strengthening and empowering the neglected IIT Council, the controversial faculty reservation in IITs, creation of non-faculty posts and amendments to the IIT Act will be among the key issues that the IIT directors are expected to bring up at the meeting to be presided over by HRD Minister Arjun Singh. The Council will also appoint directors to the new IITs started in 2008 - in Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Orissa, Gujarat and Punjab.

"It is actually a long, heavy duty list of an agenda for the IIT Council meet, it being scheduled after five years. Lots of changes have been brought in by the Government, all of which now need to be approved by the Council to avoid any legal complications. Besides ratification of all appointments, creation of new IITs, increasing of retirement age of IIT professors, OBC quota, these need to be approved by the Council. At the meet, however, the other issues we plan to raise are those of the Ministry's proposal to bring quota in IIT faculty, which the IITs community opposes, and the issue of strengthening the IIT Council. The Government needs to divest itself of overriding powers in the Council, establish its secretariat, give it proper structure, authority and do away with this overcentralised system focused on the Ministry," said a member of the Council.

The Madras High Court had set aside the appointment of IIT Madras Director M S Ananth last month because it was not routed through the Council. This is the first instance in the country where an IIT director's appointment has been set aside by the court, which even flayed the "small coterie approved by the Minister of Human Resource Development" for perversion of procedure to select a person for the "important post". The Ministry finally dug out a 1974-75 Council order, delegating appointment powers to the Council Chairman - who incidentally is the HRD Minister himself - to salvage the situation.

While a stay order has brought Ananth back to IIT - as appointments of IIT Kanpur director Prof S G Dhande, IIT Guwahati director Prof Gautam Barua and former IIT Powai head Dr Ashok Mishra were all made by the Ministry without reporting to the Council - the formalities will be completed at the meeting. New appointments at IIT Kharagpur and IIT Powai also need the Council's sanction.

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