Raghunath K. Shevgaonkar, Director of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi, has resigned, triggering a controversy.
The Union Human Resource Development Ministry, on Sunday, rejected media reports that Prof. Shevgaonkar resigned under government pressure on two counts. Only the President, in his capacity as Visitor of the IIT, could accept the resignation, the Ministry said.
The Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party criticised the Union government for the resignation, while the BJP said they were trying to make political capital.
Prof. Shevgaonkar is reported to have opposed the Ministry in the reimbursement of back wages and benefits with interest to the former faculty member and BJP leader Subramanian Swamy. The second issue is a proposal to set up a cricket academy on the institute campus.
The Ministry said cricketer Sachin Tendulkar had not made any request to run such an academy. The government had not forwarded Dr. Swamy’s request to the institute.
Vijay Pandurang Bhatkar, Chairman of the Board of Governors of the IIT, told The Hindu that Prof. Shevgaonkar had cited personal reasons for the resignation. “He told me that he had been away from his family in Mumbai for more than three years and wanted to return to the IIT, Bombay, to be with them,” he said.
Prof. Shevgaonkar sent his resignation to the Chairman on December 22 and it was forwarded to the Ministry on December 26.
Dr. Swamy taught Economics at the IIT from 1969 to 1972 after which he was dismissed for opposing the former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. He was reinstated after a court order in 1991, following which he demanded approximately Rs. 70 lakh as reimbursement. The dispute is before the court. After the BJP came to power, the Ministry sought the views of the Department of Personnel and Training on a possible settlement with Dr. Swamy.
Dr. Swamy told The Hindu that he would send a contempt notice to Prof. Shevgaonkar for allegedly spreading a rumour that he resigned under pressure from the government for an out-of-court settlement. “On seeing the file of this case, the Minister said it is outrageous that someone who has been reinstated by the court has not been paid his dues,” he said..
Prof. Shevgaonkar did not respond to several attempts of this paper to contact him.