In a relief for a student who faced repeated denial of doctorate degree by the Indian Institute of Technology-Kharagpur, the authorities have decided to send his revised thesis to an external examiner, according to an official order.
The matter relates to Mahesh Shirole, who approached different authorities along with his supervisor Professor Rajeev Kumar, against the denial of PhD to him.
Kumar, who has been fighting for justice for his student, in his appeal to the HRD ministry and President of India, claimed that the denial was a result of the institution's "vindictive attitude" towards him.
Kumar is now working with the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) following a prolonged legal battle.
Considering the merit of the case the revised thesis with all background will be sent to one new external examiner within India for examination of the thesis, according to the minutes of meeting of the senate of IIT-Kharagpur, held on May 27.
An order carrying the senate's directive was sent to head of the computer science and engineering department of the institute on June 24.
Head of the department in consultation with DSC (doctoral scrutiny committee) will forward five (5) fresh names to constitute a panel, and chairman senate is authorised to approve a panel of examiners and accordingly the revised thesis will be sent for evaluation to an identified examiner from the approved panel, citing background of the thesis, the order of the institute said.
Shirole had submitted his thesis in 2014 for the award of PhD, which was accepted by an Indian examiner, but rejected by an NRI one, Kumar said.
The original thesis would have been sent to a third examiner. Instead, the IIT kept on directing the student to revise the thesis and send that to the same NRI examiner twice, who rejected the thesis with new comments every time, he said.
For past few years, Shirole has been sending appeals to the president, who is the Visitor of IITs, the prime minister and the HRD ministry, among others.
"IIT-Kharagpur's denial of PhD to the student is an extension of its vindictive attitude against me. IIT-Kharagpur has been vindictive to me, as I disclosed arbitrariness and irregularities in the IIT's admissions in 2006 onwards, and contributed significantly in reforming IITs admissions and academic processes," Kumar had said in the appeal sent to the president on January 6, 2020.
Kumar was hailed as an "unsung hero" by the Supreme Court in 2011 for his efforts to reform the IIT Joint Entrance Examination (JEE), which has since been re-christened as JEE Advanced.
The IIT-Kharagpur had in May 2011 suspended Kumar on charges of misconduct. He was accused of damaging its reputation by leveling allegations of irregularities in admissions, purchase of laptops and rampant copying by students in exams.
Kumar joined JNU in 2015 after winning his legal fight over the issue.