IIT Guwahati expels PhD scholar for ‘defamatory’ Facebook posts

IITG: Among Vikrant Singh’s alleged offences was complaining about “issues” with JEE Main and alleging corruption against officials.

IIT Guwahati expels PhD scholar for ‘defamatory’ Facebook posts
Pritha Roy Choudhury | Jul 2, 2021 - 2:24 p.m. IST
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NEW DELHI: Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati has expelled Vikrant Singh, a PhD scholar in the institute’s department of electrical and electronics engineering (EEE) for the content of his social media posts.

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IIT Guwahati had suspended Singh in March and among his alleged offences was a Facebook post in which Singh had written that there are "a number of issues about the conduct of JEE". He made the post after Assam’s JEE Main 2020 topper was arrested for cheating. Conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA), the JEE Main is a highly competitive entrance examination for undergraduate engineering. Singh had also criticised the IIT system’s treatment of teachers or students who have alleged corruption. IIT Guwahati saw this as defamatory.

Citing still more Facebook posts, the institute expelled him through a letter dated June 25 -- a month before his suspension was to be lifted on July 27. The letter from the IIT Guwahati registrar,Suresh SM says: “With regard to your indulgence in defamation of the institute functionaries through numerous social media posts. Your defamatory social media posts, offensive letters / emails to various institute functionaries, as well as to the students' disciplinary committee (SDC) are highly disruptive to the academic environment of the institute.”

Complaints and defamation

The decision to terminate his studentship, the letter said, was taken after the board of governors (BOG) met on April 22. They were to discuss and decide on the “repeated violation of the code of conduct of the student”.


“You have committed an offence of the highest order in an academic institute, and hence your behavior is considered unpardonable,” the letter says. Before the BOG meeting, on March 27, the students’ disciplinary committee had met to discuss a complaint against Singh by the registrar of the institute about Facebook posts made on March 14 and 16. The complaint said that, “Vikrant has levelled allegations against the institute and institute functionaries”.

The SDC called for a meeting on April 7. “Mr. Vikrant's response [to that meeting] contains highly objectionable content against SDC, ICC and other functionaries of the institute administration. The language and tone used in the letter reflects Mr. Vikrant's intention of not complying to the rules and regulations of the institute as well as the ordinance and the code and conduct of students,” says the letter.

Allegations of corruption

Singh was part of a group of students and staff at the IIT Guwahati who had levelled allegations of corruption against senior members of the administration. His supervisor, Brijesh Rai, was dismissed from service in late 2019 on similar charges. Rai had written to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) alleging corruption in appointments made to a joint project between it and IIT Guwahati.

Singh and a few others launched a hunger strike when Rai was dismissed from service in January 2020. That led to a “suspended academic expulsion” order for him in March 2020. That order was finally enforced in March 2021.

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