Suspension revoked - Rajeev Kumar to resume duty with immediate effect
The competent authority at IIT Kharagpur has decided to allow computer science professor Rajeev Kumar him to resume his duty with immediate effect revoking the suspension order issued in 2011. This has come as a reprieve for him who faced the dread of dismissal from service.
The tryst of Rajeev Kumar with the Right to Information (RTI) started in 2007 when he used it for the first time to get the details of the cut-off marks used by the IIT when his son failed to clear the IIT-JEE in 2006. He found that that his son had scored about 100 marks higher than what the IITs claimed was their cut-off, but were disqualified as their chemistry scores were below the subject cut-off used. There were many other students who were in a similar situation who had an overall performance far superior to many of the students who were finally selected. He continued with the RTI applications and asked for the formula used by the IIT to calculate their cut-off point.
He didn’t get any reply initially, forcing him to approach the court. Three different formulae were provided by the IIT, one was provided in the RTI reply to Rajeev Kumar, and two others in affidavits submitted to the courts. When Rajeev Kumar pointed out that none of these formulae yielded the cut-offs alleged to have been used by the IIT, a fourth formula was produced.
Rajeev Kumar sent petitions to everyone who could make the IIT–JEE more transparent. His petitions were sent to the President; the minister of human resource development (HRD); the chairman, directors and faculty of the IITs; and anyone who he thought could make a difference. Now, the IIT-JEE examination is no longer cloaked with secrecy and all students are informed of their aggregate and subject-specific scores. Both the question paper and the correct answers are placed online after the test is over.
The Delhi High Court had observed in October 2011 “The appellant will have to be satisfied with being one of the many unsung heroes who helped in improving the system”.
IIT Kharagpur is the oldest IIt in the country which was set up in 1951 modelled on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In recent years, the IITs have faced repeated controversies In 2010, it came to light that senior IIT Kharagpur officials and faculty members were running an unrecognized, fake institute from within the IIT campus and the case is still under investigation by the CBI.
Using the RTI Act, Rajeev Kumar made public the unacknowledged quota for children of the IIT faculty that was in existence for years. He claimed that IIT Kharagpur was compelling teachers to buy computers at inflated prices and made many startling disclosures. The IIT replied that these claims of large-scale cheating in internal examinations were unsubstantiated. The IIT traced the call records of Rajeev Kumar without a warrant to prove that that he had spoken to journalists and an enquiry was set up against him. He was suspended pending the result of the enquiry.
The future course of action in the case would be known only in the times to come. But, no one can deny that his tirade was instrumental in making the entrance test of IIT more transparent. For the whistleblowers and RTI activists, the sequences of events foretell the possible pitfalls of the use of a progressive act.