The Madras High Court on Thursday ordered a CBI enquiry into the correctness and legality of the appointments made in the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, from 1995 till September 26, 2000. During the probe, if the agency found that any illegality had been committed, amounting to an offence, it should prosecute those responsible.

Justice S.Nagamuthu passed the order while allowing writ petitions by W.B.Vasantha, an Associate Professor in IIT-Madras.

In the petition, Dr. Vasantha sought quashing of the records relating to selections for faculty positions based on an advertisement in 1995, and a direction to the Chairman, Board of Governors, IIT, Madras, and the institution’s Director to select her as an Associate Professor by a duly-constituted selection committee following the reservation for OBC for faculty positions. She said the selections were arbitrary, illegal and discriminatory. The petition was filed in 1997, but was disposed of after nearly 16 years.

Mr.Justice Nagamuthu said Dr.Vasantha should be treated to have been appointed as an Associate Professor from July 27, 1995 and as Professor from December 18, 1996 in IIT, Madras. Her pay and allowances from July 27, 1995 till December 17, 1996 should be calculated notionally for fixing her future salary and for this period, the petitioner should not be entitled to backwages.

Bhaskar Ramamurthi, director, IIT- Madras, said he was looking into the matter, and necessary steps would be taken soon.

Dr.Vasantha submitted she had acquired a high first class degree in mathematics and a post-graduate degree in mathematics. She was appointed lecturer in mathematics in a college at Katpadi in 1974. She was appointed as a Lecturer in Mathematics in IIT, Madras, in August 1988. She had a total service of 23 years, both as a researcher and as a teacher either in the Madras University or in colleges, including IIT.

As she had no experience in research guidance, she was not considered for the post of Assistant Professor. The authorities selected two persons with no experience in guiding research and appointed them as Associate Professors in 1995. This was despite her being a research guide for two candidates. She was denied the post only due to “prejudice and mala fide intentions.” The two who were selected belonged to the ‘forward’ community. Her repeated representations went in vain. She was the only person who was denied promotion in eight years except for an upgrade as an Assistant Professor which was uniformly given to all lecturers in all the five IITs. When she applied for the post of Professor in 1996, she was selected as an Associate Professor, which she accepted without prejudice to her rights to challenge the selections held in 1996. For accepting the post with such a condition, the Deputy Director, IIT, insisted that she should delete the sentence “without prejudice to my rights to challenge the selection of Professor for the year 1996” in her acceptance letter. If she had challenged the selections, her service would have been terminated using the “probation clause” in the order of selection. Having no other option, she approached the High Court. She alleged that as years passed by, the meritorious institution instead of tending towards creative excellence had diluted even the norms prescribed. When contacted, Dr. Vasantha said the judgment had brought much relief to her, but it still could not make amends for the agony she faced in the last 19 years, fighting the case. “I have been an assistant professor for the last 25 years. I have never been promoted, despite guiding 13 PhD students and authoring over 80 books.”

Many of her juniors, she said, had been promoted, but she was never considered. “The judgment has restored my belief in the system.” She claimed that she faced harassment on all counts. The case was removed from the hearing list.

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