Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, used its 'rural' location to justify an illegal and secret quota it kept aside for staff wards for over four decades, twice rejecting calls from within the IIT community to scrap the reservation.
The quota was critical to retain teachers who other institutions — including other IITs — were trying to poach, the IIT Kharagpur Board of Governors (BoG) argued as justification, documents accessed by HT through the RTI Act reveal.
HT had on Monday exposed how India's oldest IIT secretly blocked 25 per cent seats in its popular five-year science programmes for hand-picked nominees, even as others had cleared the IIT Joint Entrance Examination (IIT-JEE).
At least one student beneficiary of this quota is at present a faculty member in the chemistry department at IIT Kharagpur.
The quota was started before the IIT-JEE was born in the mid-1960s and continued till 2005 when it was suspended and then abandoned the following year.
But the illegal quota was challenged internally by critics in 1988, and the IIT decided to phase out the illegal reservation — a decision it backtracked on.
The IIT BoG decided on November 30, 1988 to ask the Institute Senate "to work out the modality for phasing out the existing BoG quota system for admission to 5 year science courses progressively", meeting minutes show. The Senate consists of administrators and teachers.
But the IIT did not phase out the quota and was again challenged by others win the IIT community in 2003. However, the BoG decided — at its meeting on January 13, 2003 — to continue with the quota.
"IIT Kharagpur, being located in rural surroundings, deprives its faculty and staff of advantages that other IITs offer their employees such as good school and college facilities," the BoG argued.
The Board said it was "because of this (that) a number of faculty left IIT Kharagpur and joined other institutions".
The BoG also decided staff wards don't need to appear for IIT-JEE to benefit from the quota and authorised the Director and Senate to work out modalities for admissions to the quota.