The Executive Council (EC) of India’s best-known planning school has indicted the School of Planning and Architecture Director Professor Ranjit Mitra for participating in the selection process that cleared his wife’s name for the professor’s post.
Prof. Mitra had invited himself as a special invitee to the selection committee that was to shortlist candidates for the posts of three professors in the school. His wife, Mitra Mitra, was one of the five shortlisted.
This, the EC concluded at its meeting early this month, was prima facie, “an improper conduct”.
The SPA is a specialised deemed university that exclusively provides training in different aspects of human habitat and environment.
A professor is equivalent to a joint secretary in the central government that an Indian Administrative Service officer can aspire to reach after nearly 16-18 years of continuous service.
The EC meeting to discuss the selection of Prof. Mitra’s wife came within a fortnight of a news report in HT (Did SPA director take husbandly duty too far?) on July 24, highlighting the impropriety in the director participating in his wife’s selection process.
Prof. Mitra had then told this newspaper that there was nothing wrong. But the SPA executive council did not share his optimism.
The council said the selection process was “invalid” since the SPA Director was part of the process in which his spouse was a candidate.
The council did not spare Prof. Kavas Kapadia — who blew the whistle on his boss when some candidates questioned the process — either.
Prof. Kapadia was not only blamed for allowing the SPA director to sit through the interviews — knowing well that the director’s spouse was a candidate — but also inviting him.
Prof. Mitra, however, had come without a formal invitation, designated himself as a Special Invitee and explained his presence to his desire to safeguard the interest of the school.