GUWAHATI: A research scholar of IIT Guwahati has been suspended for “defaming the institution” after he questioned the credibility of the joint entrance examinations or JEE on social media.
PhD scholar Vikrant Singh had on October 29 last year put up a post on Facebook, reacting to the arrest of a JEE (Mains) topper from Assam for using a proxy to write the exam. In that he had said that the “problem of proxy isn’t a new thing”, and that the IITs have “acted in (a) vague and sad manner” against teachers who have levelled allegations of corruption earlier. In particular, he mentioned former IIT Kharagpur teacher Rajeev Kumar who had campaigned to reform the JEE process, and Dr Brijesh Rai of IIT Guwahati who was punished with ‘compulsory retirement’ for levelling allegations of corruption in the entry process.
In his post, Singh, while lauding the arrest, had asked for stricter rules to stop this “unfair business”. Significantly, he took the lead in mobilising the student fraternity to express solidarity with Dr Rai.
An IIT Guwahati spokesperson, however, said that Singh was in cahoots with Dr Rai, his former supervisor, in misrepresenting facts about the institution “to disrupt the academic activities of the institute”. A statement issued by IIT Guwahati on Monday clarified that Singh has been kept under “suspended academic expulsion” from March 10 until July 27. It added that his case was thoroughly investigated by the students’ disciplinary committee and a decision was arrived at after multiple and “detailed deliberations”.
IIT said that Singh had shared his suspension notice with the media instead of exploring any possibility to appeal against it with the institute authorities. This was done, they alleged, to defame the institution.
The institution also claimed that Singh had threatened several faculty members through letters and emails having objectionable and derogatory language, and instigated students to organise strikes on campus.
Singh has hit back, calling his suspension an assault on his freedom of expression. “Since when has social media activity come under the purview of disciplinary proceedings? Politicians say whatever they want on public platforms, but a student cannot air his grievances anywhere. It seems that since they can misuse public money for court cases, they don’t fear any repercussions, and dare to behave unlawfully in the garb of disciplining students,” Singh said.
IIT Guwahati said Singh was repeatedly warned by the disciplinary committee and told that the action against him was taken not just based on one incident but in view of past cases.
The institution also said that it allows a research scholar to choose a doctoral supervisor based on mutual agreement, but Singh didn’t choose a new supervisor after his previous guide, Dr Rai, was compulsorily retired.