Both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha today have approved an important Bill that empowers the President to oversee the management responsibilities of Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), designating the President as the Visitor.
This move allows the President of India the authority to scrutinize the operational aspects of IIMs, conduct investigations, and appoint or dismiss directors. Notably, the President already holds a similar position as a visitor at IITs and NITs.
Before becoming law, the Bill must be presented to President Droupadi Murmu.
Speaking in the Lower House, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan emphasized that the Bill, aimed at amending the 2017 IIM Act, seeks to uphold management accountability without compromising academic responsibilities. He highlighted the government’s substantial investment of over Rs 6,000 crore in establishing the IIMs.
While the President’s role as a visitor at IITs and NITs does not raise concerns about their academic autonomy, questions have arisen regarding IIMs. According to the Bill, the Visitor can appoint individuals to review an institute’s progress, conduct inquiries, and report in accordance with their direction. The board also possesses the authority to recommend an inquiry against an institute that fails to adhere to the Act’s provisions and objectives.
On September 14, 2022, a meeting attended by Directors of newer IIMs approved amendments, including the President’s designation as a Visitor with the power to appoint the Chairperson of the Board of Governors. Notably absent from the meeting were the Directors of IIM Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Calcutta, Indore, Lucknow, and Kozhikode, indicating the government’s focus on gathering input from the newer IIMs.
This marks the second attempt by the central government to enact this change in the 20 esteemed business schools. In December 2020, the Education Ministry proposed an executive order, in collaboration with the Law Ministry, to grant the government authority to investigate the Board of Governors of an institute if it allegedly acted against the Act’s principles. However, this proposal was rejected by the Law Ministry, as it contradicted the essence of the IIM Act.