The Madras High Court (HC) on Tuesday set aside the reappointment of M.S. Ananth, Director, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras, for a second term. The Union Ministry of Human Resource Development reappointed Ananth to the post in June 2007.
This judgment, delivered by Justice K. Chandru, is unprecedented in the history of the IITs. The HC observed that the President’s Secretariat in New Delhi had communicated his reappointment to Ananth on June 28, 2007. However, the agreement signed between A.E. Muthunayagam, chairman of the IIT-M Board of Governors, and Ananth “was typed on a stamp paper purchased on June 25, 2007,” the judgment pointed out.
This, it said, raised “considerable suspicion” in the conduct of both Ananth and the chairman of the IIT-M Board of Governors. This also showed that Ananth, who has been a part of IIT-M’s faculty since 1972, seemed to have prior intimation that his tenure was being extended, the Court observed, while quashing his reappointment.
Further, the judgment noted, Ananth, who was first appointed director in December 2001, went out of office on the completion of his tenure in December 2006. He, however, continued to function as director till his formal reappointment on the basis of an internal arrangement with IIT-M. This, the court ruled, was illegal. Hence, the principle of superannuation would not apply in his case.
The judgment came in response to a petition filed by E. Muralidharan, an IIT alumnus, who had alleged “irregularities”.
IIT-M officials when contacted by HT, declined to comment on the judgment. They said it was for the HRD Ministry to decide whether or not to file an appeal against this order. Another Bench of the Madras HC had earlier dismissed Muralidharan’s petition as non-maintainable, but hearing an appeal against this order, a Division Bench of the High Court directed Justice Chandru to hear the case afresh.