The human resource development ministry has asked the President to sack the chairman of the National Institute of Technology, Kurukshetra and has asked the CBI to probe allegations that he used misused benefits from multiple public offices.
No chairman of any elite higher educational institution like the IITs or the NITs has ever been sacked before.
Top government sources have told HT that the move against J.K. Palit comes after an internal NIT Kurukshetra enquiry concluded that the Chairman had claimed travel benefits from two independent government sources.
“The CBI will now probe the allegations against him. We want to make this an example,” a senior government source said.
Palit is a former Bihar MLA, and a member of the National Literacy Mission Authority and the central Board of Film Certification. As a former MLA, Palit is entitled to rail coupons. According to the allegations, he used the rail coupons yet claimed travel compensation from the government.
Government sources said Palit had tried to use this strategy to cheat the government on “not one but several occasions”.
Palit rejected the charges against him, arguing that the allegations were baseless and the result of a conspiracy. “If I am required to explain, I will,” he told HT.
But sources said the government had adequate documentary evidence to clinch its case against the Kurukshetra NIT Board Chairman. “This is an open and shut case as far as we are concerned,” a source said.
The HRD ministry only recently suspended two NIT Directors. But any action against the Chairman of the Board of Governors of an NIT can only be taken with the President’s approval.
Cleaning up higher education has been a key agenda of HRD minister Kapil Sibal since he took over India’s education last June.
Sibal, government sources said, was particularly concerned about several top appointments made to the NITs.
“After Palit, there are others too in the NITs who we may act against,” a source said.
In a clear indication of its discomfort with the current set of NIT heads, the HRD ministry has started a process of selecting Directors to 13 NITs even though the tenures of many of the current Directors end only next year.
The government usually starts the selection process for Directors and Vice Chancellors of higher educational institutions only close to the end of the tenures of incumbents.