Of all the heads of autonomous institutions under the HRD ministry, NCERT director Pravin Sinclair was expected to fight any move to oust her. But faced with some allegations, including a note to the ministry from Dinanath Batra, and sensing the mood of some top HRD bureaucrats, Sinclair put in her papers with more than two years of her term still left.
Highly placed sources said the HRD ministry had sought department of personnel & training's view if Sinclair could be sacked and only when the reply was in affirmative, she was given a fait accompli. However, Sinclair refused to talk about her resignation.
One of the allegations against Sinclair was violation of general financial rules in the purchase of maplitho paper and cover paper worth over Rs 50 crore. This allegation was also part of Batra's note to the HRD ministry after the new government came to power.
Interestingly, the HRD ministry's school bureau has been sitting on the file as late as September 30 and still no decision has been made. The issue has been hanging in the ministry since 2012. When it first came to light in 2012 and Central Vigilance Commission forwarded a complaint to the HRD ministry, secretary R Bhattacharya ordered that facts about the case be gathered. Sinclair also gave her response which the vigilance section did not find satisfactory. The ministry's vigilance section then asked the school division to give its response which is still awaited.
Meanwhile, Sinclair was made to resign even without the CVC getting the report from HRD which could have been further investigated by the CBI. "There are enough instances in the HRD ministry when heads of institutions with CBI chargesheet against them have been appointed and completed their term. Former IIT Patna director AK Bhowmick was chargesheeted in coalnet scam by the CBI and completed full term," said one ministry official.
Known for her forthright views and refusal to accede to HRD ministry's diktat, bureaucrats resented Sinclair. What also brought Sinclair in conflict was that she initiated the process of reviewing 21 focus groups of different curriculum areas. "In the last few months, NCERT was increasingly told that all big decisions have to be cleared by the ministry. She was boxed from all sides," said a source.