New Delhi: Nine of the 23 Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), including the ones in Delhi and Bombay, do not have a full-time chairperson of the boards of governors (BoGs). The director is holding the additional post of chairman at these IITs.
Some of these institutes have had the post vacant for the last two years.
The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) furnished information in the matter in its reply to an RTI application filed by activist Sujeet Swami, who works in the field of technical education. According to the reply, a copy of which is with ThePrint, Patna, Gandhinagar, Roorkee, Ropar, BHU, Delhi, Bombay, Bhuwaneshwar and Guwahati do not have a chairman of the boards of governors. While Patna, Gandhinagar, Ropar, Roorkee and BHU have the post vacant since 2018, the post fell vacant at the other four IITs in 2019.
An official in the MHRD told ThePrint that they are working on filling up the vacancies.
Names sent to President for approval
Each IIT is governed by its BoG, headed by a chairperson, which is responsible for the general superintendence, direction and control of the affairs of the particular institute.
The chairperson is supposed to be nominated by the Visitor, who is the President of India, and he/she is supposed to chair the meeting of the BoG that takes broad decisions for the institute and make sure the decisions are implemented.
Speaking to ThePrint about the vacancies in IITs, an HRD ministry official who looks after technical education said some names have been sent to President Ram Nath Kovind for approval.
“The IIT chairman is supposed to be nominated by the President. In case of some IITs, we have received names of eligible candidates for the post and we have sent them for the President’s approval. For others, we have invited suggestions from IITs and eminent personalities such as scientists and businesspersons. Once we have the suggestions, the names will be sent to the President for approval,” said the official, who did not wish to be named.
He added that there is a provision for the director to hold the additional responsibility of chairman unless a new candidate is found for the post. The official, however, did not wish to comment on the delay in the appointment of chairpersons.
Directors won’t double up as chairpersons: HRD in 2018
The HRD ministry under Prakash Javadekar had in 2018 put forward a proposal that directors will not double up as chairpersons in IITs.
Javadekar had reportedly approved a proposal that any incumbent chairperson of another IIT would be requested to officiate until the government fills the vacant post. Two years down the line, all the nine IITs without a chairman have their directors holding the additional post.
The chairman of IIT Madras BoG is Pawan Goenka, a prominent businessperson, while the post is held by scientist Dr Kopillil Radhakrishnan at IIT Kharagpur.
Eminent nuclear scientist Anil Kakodkar had served as the IIT Bombay chairman but he left after an alleged tiff with former HRD minister Smriti Irani.
The post at IIT Bombay has been vacant ever since.
The six new IITs that came up between 2015 and 2016 — in Tirupati, Bhilai, Palakkad, Goa, Jammu and Dharwad — have HRD Secretary Amit Khare officiating as the chairman (BoG).
In effect, only eight of the 23 IITs currently have Visitor-appointed chairpersons.
IIT professors say a chairman’s position is very critical for the institute, but the same person holding both director and chairman posts can create conflict of interest. “A chairman is supposed to be appointed by the President, so that he/she can take an unbiased decision in connection with important issues that matter to the institute. If the director takes that decision, he can be biased,” said a faculty member at IIT Guwahati, who did not wish to be identified.