A former Indian Institute of Technology Madras director who headed the All India Council for Technical Education during the NDA regime faces the prospect of prosecution for alleged cheating and forgery during his tenure. Targeting corruption at the AICTE during the NDA’s tenure, for the first time, the CBI has recommended prosecution of R Natarajan, former chairman of India’s top technical education regulator, top sources at the investigative agency confirmed to HT.
Natarajan was chairman of the AICTE between 2001 and 2004, before which he was director of IIT Madras. He has also held several other top positions
If prosecuted, Natarajan will be the first IIT director to face criminal charges. The CBI has also recommended prosecution of 13 other officials, in a report to the human resource development (HRD) ministry, the sources said. “We have established that the rot at the AICTE started well before 2004, and have evidence of the complicity of Natarajan and other officials we want to prosecute,” a senior investigator said.
The CBI has recommended prosecution for cheating, forgery, forgery with the intent of cheating and criminal conspiracy against Natarajan and the 13 other officials. It has recommended departmental action against 13 other officials who were members of AICTE committees or members of inspection committees.
Natarajan and the 13 others, who the CBI wants to prosecute allegedly conspired to approve, extend the approval and allow increase in student intake capacity of Chennai-based JA Institute of Engineering and Technology using forged documents.
The AICTE officials accorded approvals despite knowing that the managing trustee was not planning to establish the college as required under norms, and based on “fabricated fixed deposit receipts,” the CBI investigation report says. The CBI last year arrested the AICTE member secretary K Narayana Rao and raided the home and office of then chairman RA Yadav, based on complaints of bribery. The agency has found evidence against Yadav, Rao and several other officials who were working at the AICTE under them.