Tribunal directive follows series of allegations against the institute’s management

Acting on a series of allegations against the administrative decisions of the city-based Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Bangalore Bench of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) has directed the Department of Science and Technology (DST), government of India, to constitute a high-level committee for studying policies, bylaws, recruitment, pay structure, and promotional norms of the institute.

“There is an imperative need to revisit the institute’s policies, rules/regulations, bylaws, guidelines for recruitment and promotions, including powers of the director, pay structure and designations, and qualification for various posts,” said a Bench comprising member (Judicial) K.B. Suresh and member (Administrative) Naresh Gupta.

‘Realign procedures’

In a one-of-its-kind direction, the tribunal also said there was a need to realign these procedures of the IIA, which is a premier research institute under the DST, with the other similar autonomous institutes such as the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) by taking into consideration the instructions from the Department of Personnel and Training, and the DST.

For this purpose, the tribunal asked the Secretary, DST, to constitute a committee comprising senior officers/scientists of the DST, the CSIR and some other autonomous organisations under the DST and an officer not below the rank of Joint Secretary to the government of India.

Petition

The directions were issued while disposing of a petition filed by K. Dhananjay, who is working as an engineer ‘C’ with the IIA.

Apart from seeking direction to promote him with retrospective effect, Mr. Dhananjay had submitted documents to the tribunal pointing out alleged “favouritism and nepotism” by the IIA top brass in the process of appointment, grant of increments/promotions selectively, recruitment without proper publicity and recruitment of family members of ex-employees, creation and upgrading of posts without approval from the DST, etc.

The allegations were “serious in nature and they cannot be swept under the carpet”, the tribunal said while pointing out that the IIA, in response to these allegations, had merely stated that these “documents were not relevant to the case [of promotion] of Mr. Dhananjay.”

It appears that Mr. Dhananjay was not treated justly, possibly as he had the streak of a rebel and was finding fault with the various decisions of the Director(s), the policies, norms, etc., the tribunal observed, and asked the IIA to set up an assessment committee afresh for re-examining, without any bias, the plea for granting him promotion (without monetary benefit) with retrospective effect.

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