ROURKELA: The National Institute of Technology - Rourkela (NIT-R) is in the thick of controversy again with Prof CR Patra illegally continuing as the Member of the its Board of Governors (BoG), the highest policy making body.
Sources informed that under provisions of the NIT Act, two members get nominated by the Senate to the 11-member BoG. As per tradition, the Senate Members of NIT-R elect them through secret ballot system.
After BoG Member Prof B Majhi of Computer Science department left the institute to join as Director of IIIT, Kancheepuram in July 2017, a ‘casual vacancy’ was created in the Board.
Accordingly, the Senate through secret ballot nominated Prof Patra of Civil Engineering wing of NIT-R to fill up the void left by professor Majhi.
Registrar in the capacity of Secretary to the Senate and BoG brought out order No. NITR / RG / 2017 /L / 3162 dated August 23, 2017 stating, “Prof CR Patra will continue up to April 26, 2018 till completion of the term of Prof B Majhi.”
But shortly after on 28 August 2017, the Registrar issued a revision circular citing advice of Legal Advisor (there is no such official position in NIT-R) and approval of the NIT-R Director which stated that the tenure of Prof Patra will be for a full term of two years till August 21, 2019.
Mocking at the authorities, sources in the institute requesting anonymity said the Registrar’s revised order is nothing short of an attempt to rewrite the NIT Act.
The Clause 12 (e) of NIT Act states, “The term of office of a member nominated to fill a casual vacancy shall continue for the remainder of the term of the Member in whose place he has been nominated.”
Earlier in 2014-15, Prof Rintu Banerjee of IIT Kharagpur and Prof RK Bhandari of VECC, Kolkata had illegally continued as BoG Members for about a year during the controversial tenure of then Board Chairperson of NIT-R Vasantha Ramaswamy. Finally, the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development removed them from the post with a categorical order on June 17, 2015.
Prof Patra’s continuation as a BoG Member beyond his normal term assumes significance as he is reportedly heading several committees of inquiry. As a BoG Member, he has the potential to influence individuals and decisions. Contacted, Chairman of NIT-R BOG Dr Santrupt B Misra said he is unaware of the matter and will do a check in this regard.