IIT professor Jagdeesh Kumar was appointed as JNU vice-chancellor by President Pranab Mukherjee after he was selected from a panel of four names that also included scientist V S Chauhan, who was reported to be HRD Minister Smriti Irani’s preferred choice to lead the prestigious institute. According to sources, the HRD Ministry had sent four names to the President and Irani had conveyed her preference for Chauhan, a scientist working in the fields of genetic engineering and biotechnology and known for his contributions to the development of a vaccine for malaria.
He is also a member of the University Grants Commission (UGC) and has been given Padma Shri by the erstwhile UPA government. The President, however, appointed IIT-Delhi professor Kumar to the post of VC of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), ignoring Irani’s recommendation.
The sources said there is no obligation on part of the President to go by the preference indicated by the ministry, but in most cases, this norm is followed. The panel of four also included academicians R N K Bamezai and Ramakrishna Ramaswamy. “All the four candidates had strong backgrounds,” one of the sources said. When contacted, official spokespersons of the President’s office as well as the HRD Ministry declined to comment on the matter.