New Delhi: The Ministry of Education is examining Indian Institute of Management (IIM)-Rohtak director Dheeraj Sharma’s response to a show-cause notice sent by the ministry in March, and also exploring possible legal action against him for allegedly concealing his educational qualifications from the ministry, ThePrint has learnt.
By the ministry’s own admission in the Punjab and Haryana High Court in March, Sharma was found not eligible to hold the position of director. According to the government, Sharma passed his bachelors examination with second division, whereas a first-division result is one of the criteria for the IIM director’s post.
Despite his alleged inadequate educational qualification, however, Sharma managed to complete a five-year tenure in the position this February, by allegedly concealing his educational documents from the government. The IIM-Rohtak director even got re-appointed to the position in March.
A petition filed by a Right to Information activist and a Delhi-based lawyer in the Punjab & Haryana High Court against his selection finally brought his appointment under the scanner. Soon after his re-appointment as director, the government sent him a show-cause notice on 28 March, asking him to explain “why action should not be initiated against him?” and why did he “conceal” his educational qualifications from the government.
Sources privy to the development told ThePrint that the director has submitted a detailed response in his defence, and the ministry is currently going through the response to decide the future course of action, and also taking legal counsel on the matter.
“We suspect a lot of financial fraud in Sharma’s previous tenure where he continued as director despite not being eligible for the post. This is why we had sent a show-cause notice to him asking why no action should be taken against him. His reply to the notice finally came to us earlier this week. We are now examining the reply, which is a fairly long one, and taking legal counsel (exploring legal options to take action against him),” said a ministry official.
ThePrint reached Sharma and his lawyer, Vivek Singla, on calls and text messages, but received no response till the time of publication of this report. The article will be updated once their response is received.
Close watch on second tenure
In an order dated 22 April this year, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had directed Sharma to file his response to the ministry’s notice within a week and also asked the ministry to not take any action against the director till the next court hearing — scheduled for July.
“Till the next date of hearing, parties are directed to preserve the cause of action. Therefore, it would be appropriate to direct that the petitioner shall respond to the show cause notice by filing his reply within a week from today, however, till the next date of hearing, further action arising out of the show cause notice shall remain in abeyance,” the court order had read.
The ministry is now examining Sharma’s response.
Sources also said that the ministry is keeping a close watch on Sharma’s second tenure as director, including keeping a track of the functioning of its board of governors (BoG). After accepting in court that Sharma’s appointment did not meet the requisite eligibility for an IIM director, the ministry had raised objections to his second term as director, but the objections were ignored by the BoG and he was given a second term. The ministry is now keeping a close watch on the BoG.
(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)