- Akshaya Mukul
Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT)-Allahabad, a deemed to be university, is caught in a peculiar situation.
MD Tiwari, the director of the institute since its inception in 1999, whose term ended last December and six months extension got over in June has amended the Memorandum of Association (MoA) of IIIT so that he continues till the new director is appointed.
Even as the HRD ministry cries foul and the UGC says amending MoA is patently illegal, Tiwari maintains he has merely followed the law. Chancellor of IIIT-Allahabad, Goverdhan Mehta, has sent a report to the HRD ministry on the latest development. "I have taken an appropriate step. I have written in as much objective and reasonable fashion as possible," he told the TOI.
The matter came to head when Tiwari's six-month extension ended in June. HRD sources say instead of demitting the office he flashed the institute's MoA that was amended in November, 2011. It was discovered that MoA stated that the director can continue in office for six months after expiry of his tenure till a new director joins, whichever is later. The crucial change was introduction of the term 'later' instead of 'earlier.' UGC's 2010 regulation for deemed universities states that after expiry of five-year term a person can continue for six months or till the successor is appointed, whichever is earlier.
HRD ministry's additional secretary protested against the amendment and pointed out relevant portions of UGC's regulation that said no rules or bye law governing the functioning of any deemed university can be altered without UGC's prior approval.
Tiwari contests ministry's claim. He asks, "Why was ministry silent for two years? Moreover, additional secretary's protest letter against amendment has been written not as ministry official but as a member of IIIT Society." Education secretary and financial advisor of the ministry are other members of the society. He also says amendment was endorsed by 26 members of the society. But ministry sources say amendment in the MoA is illegal, and the matter would be taken to its logical end.
IIIT faculty members also blame the HRD ministry for not fast-tracking the appointment of the new director. "It has been more than eight months and a replacement could not be found. Instead, the process is mired in litigation. We are repeatedly told the process will get over soon," they allege.