New Delhi: The Union government has decided to allow the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) to reappoint their board chairpersons for a fresh full term, notwithstanding its decision to scrap the boards themselves.

The human resources development ministry has written to all 20 IIMs empowering them to reappoint their chairpersons, a day after it decided to dissolve the old boards on 12 November, at least two government officials said, requesting anonymity.

There are two directives from the government—one on dissolution of the existing board for reconstitution of it in accordance with the new IIM Act and two allowing IIMs to reappoint chairperson for a fresh term of four years regardless of how many years they have already served, said one of the IIM directors.

“The IIM Act was unclear on how the first board chairmen will be appointed. Hence, the present directive from the government makes it easier for IIMs to proceed without fearing any infringement of their autonomy granted under the Act," the director said, requesting anonymity.

The position of IIM chairperson assumes significance because they, as head of the board of governors, are all-powerful to take academic, financial and administrative decisions for these elite business schools. And, delaying their appointment would have further delayed the implementation of the Act on the ground.

The second official said the move to allow reappointment is a win-win for both the government and the IIMs. For government, it means no more conflict with these B-Schools or creating a situation which will put them at a disadvantage in finding a suitable chairmen from among industry leaders or reputed academicians. For IIMs, it means there is no curtailment of autonomy granted to them via the Act.

The second official said had the HRD ministry moved for an amendment of the IIM Act on the appointment of these chairmen, the law ministry or somebody else would have shown some way to “enter the IIMs from the back-door", indicating that it would have curtailed their autonomy

IIM Bangalore appointed Devi Shetty, a renowned cardiologist and chairman of the Narayana Group of Hospitals, as chairman last month. And any “misdirection from the government would have nullified his appointment," creating a rift between government and the IIMs, the second official said.

The official, however, said since IIM Rohtak does not have a chairman right now, the IIM and the government are looking at the situation on how they can go about the process and appoint a complete board before 15 December, as specified by the government.

The IIM Rohtak director declined to comment. However, a professor of the IIM said the search-cum-selection committee has already shortlisted the names and a three-member committee comprising the institute director, state (Haryana) and central government representatives will finalize the name soon.

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