With a Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML) society member writing to society president PM Manmohan Singh that the culture ministry had revoked the suspension of an NMML deputy director in violation of rules, the controversies surrounding the premier research institution show no signs of abating.
In his letter, NMML society member and former NCERT dean Arjun Dev recalls that the official, N Balakrishnan, was suspended in May 2009 after a Parliamentary Committee found 'irregularities' in the award of scholarships by an NMML subcommittee.
The letter, forwarded to all NMML society members, was written days before a search committee finalised present director Mridula Mukherjee's replacement. The letter also charges that Mukherjee's planned replacement is in fact aimed at scuttling the enquiry against the official, as there is no fixed term for an NMML director as per the rules.
Dev's letter says, "While the Minister of Culture (at that time the Prime Minister) was named the appellate authority it was the secretary, ministry of culture, who took the hearing and revoked the suspension".
"This is in clear violation of well-known rules that the powers of an appellate authority cannot be delegated".
An NMML note had also pointed this out, as a result of which the revokation was implemented “despite serious doubts”, sources said.
However, culture secretary Jawhar Sircar told HT about the revocation, “secretary culture was authorised by the culture minister to hear and dispose the appeal, with the clearance of the law ministry”.
The process for the selection of a new director has, in fact, come under intense controversy in the light of recent developments.
Historians have questioned the change in recruitment rule to make any social scientist, and not just historians the director of the institutes. The government says it is widening the selection pool.