New Delhi: The Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry has asked IIT Kharagpur to put before its board of governors the issue of denial of doctorate degree to a student of whistleblower Professor Rajeev Kumar, who claimed "vindictive attitude" towards him on part of the premier engineering institute, according to an RTI reply.
The move follows appeals by Kumar, who got posting at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) after a prolonged legal battle with IIT Kharagpur where he was posted earlier, and by his student Mahesh Shirole to the ministry.
Citing Shirole's petition, the HRD ministry in a communique asked the registrar of IIT Kharagpur to place the issue before the board of governors for a decision. The copy of the communique was received in response to an RTI query filed by Kumar.
The board of governors of IIT Kharagpur is headed by Sanjiv Goenka, the Chairman of RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group, Kumar said.
Each autonomous Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) has a board of governors responsible for its overall general superintendence, direction and control of the affairs. 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.
It is alleged that the NRI examiner was biased, prejudiced and his appointment was in violation of the IIT's rule.
"IIT did not send the thesis to a third examiner despite repeated requests," Kumar said.
For the past three years, Shirole has been sending appeals to the President, who is the Visitor of IITs, the Prime Minister and the HRD Ministry, among others.
Kumar, who has been fighting for justice of his student, in his appeal to the HRD ministry and also to the President, claimed that the denial was the result of the institution's "vindictive attitude" towards him.
"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 IITs admissions in 2006 onwards, and contributed significantly in reforming IITs admissions and academic processes," he said in the appeal.
He said, "For these reforms, the Supreme Court hailed me as one of the many unsung heroes who helped in improving the system."
IIT Kharagpur had in May 2011 suspended Kumar on charges of misconduct. He was accused of damaging its reputation by levelling allegations of irregularities in admissions, purchase of laptops and rampant copying by students in exams.
Then, the IIT imposed a penalty of his compulsory retirement in 2014, which was set-aside in 2017 by then President Pranab Mukherjee.
During the time, Kumar was appointed and joined JNU in 2015 during his legal fight over the issue. Kumar was hailed as an "unsung hero" by the Supreme Court the in 2011 for his efforts to reform the IIT Joint Entrance Examination (JEE), which has since been re-christened as JEE Advanced.