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Did not force IIT director’s hand, says Irani

Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani is learnt to have called a meeting on Sunday over the resignation of Shevgaonkar before issuing a rejoinder over the issue.

But at the backdrop of the IIT-HRD ministry furore, reports trickled in about Shevgaonkar’s involvement in an off-shore IIT campus in Mauritius without having due clearances from any government authority and thus to escape any inquiries the director offered to quit. Sources in the ministry said that one of the reasons for the IIT director resignation was that HRD ministry had taken cognizance of a complaint against him for starting an off-campus branch of the institution. The IIT Delhi had decided to set up a campus in Mauritius in 2013 under the erstwhile UPA regime but there was a complaint that it was in violation of rules. However, HRD ministry had not served any notice to the director.

The HRD ministry in its clarification on Sunday said that the media report is factually inaccurate and incorrect and unnecessarily drags the ministry into issues where no direction has been issued by the ministry. “There is neither any request from Sachin Tendulkar for the ground of IIT for running a Cricket Academy nor any instruction from HRD ministry to provide the same,” it said in an official press release.

The ministry said that IIT Delhi Board of Governor’s Chairman Dr Vijay P Bhatkar had forwarded IIT Delhi Director Raghunath K Shevgaonkar’s resignation letter on Friday (December 26) evening for the Appointing Authority’s decision following due process since resignations can only be accepted by the Appointing Authority and later go to the President of India for his approval as the Visitor of IIT-Delhi. 

Clarifying its stand on the controversy arising over Swamy, the Ministry said that it has neither forwarded Swamy’s request to IIT-Delhi nor given any direction to make payment of arrears to him instead views of DoPT and Finance Ministry have been sought in the matter.

While Shevgaonkar has refused to comment over the issue, Sachin Tendulkar denied involvement over the resignation of Shevgaonkar. “I am appalled to read the stories that suggest some land has been asked from IIT-D for academy in my name. I have not even planned any academy neither do I want any piece of land for any purpose,” Tendulkar tweeted.

Reacting to the reports, Swamy alleged that the director’s resignation was a “cheap trick” to protect himself from disciplinary action over IIT Delhi’s campus in Mauritius.

Reportedly, Shevgaonkar, who had more than two years left of his current term, was under pressure from the ministry to release pay of nearly Rs 70 lakh to former IIT-D faculty and now BJP leader Subramanian Swamy as his salary dues between 1972 and 1991. The report further stated that the ministry was also piling pressure on institute to release land for Sachin Tendulkar’s cricket academy.
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