Nearly 20 years after challenging IIT-Madras over its appointments to the post of Associate Professor and Professor, Assistant Professor WB Vasantha got relief from the Madras High Court, with the court noting that the premier institute committed “gross irregularity” in the selection process.
In its 27-page judgement, the division bench comprising Justice A Selvam and P Kalaiyarasan reminded IIT-M that “as an institute of national importance should be role model to others in adopting the procedures and laws not only in selection process but in all aspects.”
The court, however, set aside the single judge’s order directing a CBI probe into the appointments, observing that the “lapses” committed by the institute did not warrant an enquiry.
The case dates back to 1997 when Vasantha, an Assistant Professor in IIT-Madras’ mathematics department, moved court after being rejected for the posts of Associate Professor and Professor despite being fully qualified.
In January 1995, IIT-Madras had issued an advertisement inviting applications for the post of Associate Professor. The selection committee refused to take Vasantha’s application and instead ended up selecting two candidates, one who did not have the required qualifications. While one of them had an ancillary postgraduate degree in mathematical physics instead a PG degree in mathematics, while the other did not have a first class in his PG degree.
In June 1996, the institute issued an advertisement inviting applications for the post of Professor. While Vasantha failed to qualify for the post of Professor, the selection commission offered her the job of Associate Professor. She accepted the position, without prejudice to her rights to challenge her non-selection for the post of Professor. Thereafter, however, IIT Madras stated that her conditional acceptance was not acceptable.
In its August 22 order, the High Court stated, “Contrary to the basic qualification required as given in the advertisement, the selection made by committee is irregular and cannot be termed as good, even if there is no allegation of malafide explicitly made.”
The division bench also ordered the institute to consider Vasantha for the post of Associate Professor from July 1995 and the post of Professor from January 1997.
Although Vasantha has retired from IIT-Madras, she welcomed the High Court’s order. Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, the former Assistant Professor said, “I was beginning to despair that I would die without seeing the light at the end this long battle for justice. The court has now re-established that justice will prevail, ultimately.”
She, however, wondered, “if anything can compensate me for the torture, humiliation, frustration and depression I have undergone through these years in spite of my exemplary qualifications and research work hailed across the mathematics world.”