New Delhi: Brijesh Kumar Rai, a professor at IIT Guwahati who spoke out against alleged corruption and malpractices in the institution, has been ordered to go on compulsory retirement, according to a report in India Today.
Rai, who is an assistant professor at the Department of Electronics and Electrical Engineering at IIT Guwahati, has also been asked to vacate his official quarters by the authorities on grounds of misconduct by January 31 last.
The order issued by the registrar and secretary of the Board of Governors of IIT Guwahati on January 1, 2020, stated that:
“The Board of Governors in its meeting on 14-11-2019 decided to accept the three inquiry reports after considering Dr Brijesh Kumar Rai’s submissions while concluding that each of the three cases were independently serious enough to merit the imposition of a penalty of dismissal from service (which would be a disqualification for future employment). However, at this meeting, the Board of Governors reconsidered the quantum of a penalty and decided to impose the penalty of compulsory retirement on Dr BK Rai, instead of the proposed penalty of dismissal from service.”
According to the three inquiry reports, three disciplinary proceedings had been initiated against Rai on grounds of misconduct regarding an altercation with a B. Anand, an email complaint to ISRO by Rai without maintaining the channel of official protocol and a complaint by the head of the EEE department dated January 16, 2018, reporting dereliction of duty by Rai.
The IIT Guwahati administration has claimed that the Rai was given several opportunities to defend himself by the board of governors and the inquiry committees. However, Rai refuted the administration’s claims and alleged that he was not given a fair chance to defend himself.
Rai alleged that he was being subjected to “really severe harassment” and that “if the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and the President of India would fulfil their duties, he would not have been in the situation.” He also questioned why no action had been taken on his complaints.
Rai had previously alleged that the director of IIT-Guwahati had used Rs 27 lakh to renovate his bungalow at a time when the institute was facing a shortage of funds.
“He [director of IIT Guwahati] has been threatening me. He illegally blocked my email. I am sure that all the things that is happening with the knowledge of the HRD minister and RSS people,” Rai said.
Rai also said that his fight against alleged corrupt practices in the institute and in the recruitment process started in 2015.
“In December 2014, one faculty of the department had tried to arrange an MTech degree for a student who was not present in the institute. He was already working. It is against the ordinance of the institute to arrange an examination for that student. The faculty (MTech guide) knew that, it is impossible to know that, the student is not available in the institute. That student got the degree and this was known to seven faculty members close to him, but none of them had lodged a complaint,” Rai said.
“I lodged a complaint to the HoD, but the HoD tried to hide the information, suppress the complaint. They terminated the student, but no show cause notice was issued against the main culprit faculty member. I started filing RTI to get know those wrongdoing things on papers.”
He further alleged that there were corrupt practices involved in the selection of the faculty and about 50 people were appointed from the waiting list in just two years. Rai also said that he filed close to 300 RTIs, several of which had allegedly pointed to large-scale corruption at the institute. Rai was then accused of maligning the institute’s name writing to the ISRO chief about ‘illegal’ recruitment on campus.
Rai has said that he intends to challenge the institute’s decision in court.
“False charges and allegations were levelled against me. In the name of inquiry, they have created a drama. I will challenge it in court,” Rai told the Telegraph. “I hold the BJP, RSS and ABVP responsible for my harassment and inaction on complaints of corruption. People like me feel cheated. There was no investigation and that is a fact.”
Some students at IIT Guwahati also launched an indefinite hunger strike seeking a “fair and independent” probe the corrupt practices revealed by Rai. Led by two PhD students, Vikrant Singh and Himanchal Singh, the stir also aims at reinstating Rai
“Our first and foremost demand is to conduct a fair and independent inquiry concerning the suspension and compulsory retirement given to Brijesh Kumar Rai. Secondly, he should be given at least four months to vacate his official residence,” Vikrant Singh said.