Indian Institute of Technology Madras flouted the law and IIT statutes in appointing deputy director VG Idichandy, drawing allegations of nepotism at a time the Institute administration already faces a slew of charges.
Documents accessed by HT show that the specific procedure for appointing deputy directors detailed in the IIT Madras statutes was not followed in appointing Idichandy, the second-in-command at the IIT, on July 4, 2009.
The deviation came at a time Institute director MS Ananth who nominated Idichandy for the post, was himself fighting a court case in which his reappointment as IIT director was challenged and initially struck down. Had Ananth’s second term – which was upheld by a division bench of the Madras high court after a single judge bench struck it down – been held illegal, Idichandy may have had to at least temporarily assume charge of the IIT.
On June 3, 2009, Ananth wrote to the then chairman of the IIT’s Board of Governors (BoG), veteran scientist R Chidambaram, recommending Idichandy’s name for deputy director based on “the procedure formulated by the Board for appointment of Deans, which involves seeking the opinion of all full professors as one of the inputs.” Chidambaram approved the recommendation the next day.
Ananth insisted no rule had been violated, and argued that BoGs of individual IITs were entitled to appointing deputy directors based on recommendations of the director. “In any case, the appointment is made by the Board, not by me,” Ananth told HT, claiming that other IITs also appoint deputy directors similarly.
But the Institute of Technology Act and the IIT Madras statutes that detail how the institution is to be administered specify a selection procedure very different from the one Ananth cited. BoG decisions must be consistent with – and cannot violate -- the Act and statutes, HRD ministry sources confirmed. Ananth too did not cite any rule that would allow the IIT to bypass its law and statutes.
Section 18 of the Act that governs all IITs clearly specifies that the deputy director “shall be appointed on such terms and conditions as may be laid down in the Statutes.” Section 12 of the IIT Madras statutes state that a selection committee consisting of the Director, a nominee of the Visitor (the President of India), two nominees of the Board and one nominee of the Senate – the top academic body of an IIT – is to recommend names for the deputy director’s post.
The same process is required to be followed by the IIT for appointing professors, under the statutes.
The IIT Madras administration has in recent weeks faced repeated questions of propriety and allegations of irregularities. The Institute distributed gold coins to staff members even as it complained to the HRD ministry over a shortage of funds for paying salaries.
Concerns have been raised over a series of appointments Ananth has initiated in recent weeks even though he is quitting office end July. The HRD ministry had recently barred previous University Grants Commission Chairman Sukhdeo Thorat from making appointments or promoting officers in the last three months of his tenure.
IIT Madras is also under the scrutiny of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) for violating government rules and ignoring repeated HRD ministry directions and warnings in pension payments, leading to a loss worth Rs 6.5 crore.