An IIT professor and the former director of a technology institute has alleged that Smriti Irani, the union minister for human resource development, was instrumental in him being transferred out of his job and that he incurred the minister’s ire because he insisted that rules be followed in the matter of posting of a lower division clerk.
ET spoke to the IIT professor and former director of Central Institute of Technology (CIT) Kokrajhar, Assam, Uday Shankar Dikshit, and the director of IIT-Guwahati, Gautam Biswas. IIT-Guwahati is the administering authority for CIT, Kokrajhar, which was established in 2006.
Questions sent to the HRD ministry on June 10 have gone unanswered. ET only received the standard acknowledgment reply saying the matter was being forwarded to the relevant department.
ET sought official replies from the HRD ministry on two subsequent occasions. But there was no response. Ex-CIT Kokrajhar director Dikshit told ET that Irani had a phone conversation with him on April 24 and among other things, the posting of the clerk, Shailendra Kumar Pankaj, was also discussed.
He said he felt “the minister was not happy”. The point of contention, Dikshit said, was that Pankaj was working out of Delhi, at the HRD ministry, when he was on the rolls of CIT Kokrajhar.
The CIT director said rules as well as personnel requirements dictated that Pankaj should come back to Kokrajhar while the minister insisted that Pankaj be transferred to Delhi. Dikshit was replaced as CIT director by Debkumar Chakrabarti on May 8 and Pankaj, the clerk, was formally transferred to Delhi HRD ministry office on May 12. Chakrabarti, like Dikshit, is an IIT-Guwahati professor. The director of IIT-Guwahati, Biswas, told ET he was directed by the Board of Governors of the institute to shortlist names of three senior most persons for CIT director appointment. All IIT Boards report to the HRD ministry.
Biswas told ET: “I was asked to shortlist names of three persons in April and Professor Chakrabarti was one of them.” When asked about the reason for Dikshit’s removal, Biswas said, “I am not aware about the internal proceedings in CIT.” Senior officials familiar with the matter told ET that Irani’s office had cited misconduct as a reason for Dikshit’s removal from directorship of CIT.
These officials said the issue became a point of contention when in February, Pankaj was asked by CIT to go back to his post in Kokrajhar.
Pankaj had come to Delhi and in HRD ministry in 2008. Officials said when Pankaj’s transfer order was sent, the HRD minister asked that an email be sent to Dikshit on rescinding the transfer order and posting the clerk back to Delhi.
The conversation between Dikshit and the minister, these officials said, happened after emails on this matter did not result in Pankaj being transferred to Delhi. These officials spoke on the condition they not be identified.
Confirming this as well as the emails, Dikshit told ET: “On April 24, I got a call from Delhi and was surprised to know that the minister herself wanted to talk to me. We discussed many things and she asked me to come over to Delhi to which I expressed my inability and told her that I can send our registrar if she wanted. Towards the end of the call, I could feel that she was not happy.”
On the issue of transfer of Pankaj, Dikshit said: “We had no issue regarding his place of working but we feared that audit might raise objections because of which I insisted that he should work in Kokrajhar. If HRD minister wanted him to be transferred to New Delhi, she could have asked his ministry to issue an order instead of sending e-mails.”