Published: 05th March 2020
IIT-Kharagpur to consider reviewing student's claim of being denied PhD degree by whistleblower prof
Citing Shirole's petition, the human resource development (HRD) ministry in a communique had asked the IIT-Kharagpur registrar to place the issue before the board of governors for a decision
A doctoral scrutiny committee (DSC) of the IIT-Kharagpur will consider the case of denial of doctorate degree to a student of whistleblower Professor Rajeev Kumar, who has alleged "vindictive attitude" towards him by the premier engineering institute, according to official documents. It has been decided to put the matter of Mahesh Shirole to the DSC for a "refreshed consideration", the documents stated.
The committee has head of the department as its ex-officio chairperson. The move follows repeated appeals by Shirole and his supervisor Kumar, a former professor of the computer science and engineering department at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur, according to a letter by Registrar BN Singh.
Kumar is now working with the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) following a prolonged legal battle. Citing Shirole's petition, the human resource development (HRD) ministry in a communique had asked the IIT-Kharagpur registrar to place the issue before the board of governors for a decision. A 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 the RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group, Kumar said. Each autonomous IIT has a board of governors responsible for its overall general superintendence, direction and control of 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. "The 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 Ph. D 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.
The IIT-Kharagpur had in May 2011 had 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 in 2011 for his efforts to reform the IIT Joint Entrance Examination (JEE), which has since been re-christened as JEE Advanced.