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ISCE Council secretary goes on leave

Anita Joshua

Probe ordered into charges of misconduct against Francis Fanthome The action was taken after conducting a preliminary enquiry in April on the basis of a communication from the HRD Ministry

NEW DELHI: Chief Executive and Secretary of the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations Francis Fanthome has gone on leave pending disposal of the enquiry that has been ordered into charges of misconduct -- both financial and administrative -- brought up against him. Though the Executive Committee of the Council had first decided to suspend him, they offered him the option of going on leave as a "goodwill gesture''.

The decision to ask Mr. Fanthome -- a nominated member of the Lok Sabha -- to go on leave or face suspension was taken at a meeting of the Executive Committee this past Saturday. Mr. Fanthome went on leave on Tuesday after which the second-in-command and Deputy Secretary Rita Wilson has been given charge as a temporary arrangement.

Among the charges that were brought up against Mr. Fanthome included financial bungling and nepotism. In particular, he was found guilty of recommending schools for affiliation even before students were enrolled and the school was launched, changing affiliation rules, using official designation in authoring/editing/presenting/compiling and endorsing at least 60 books on a wide range of subjects without the approval of the Executive Committee, and travelling overseas for lecture tours without approval.

The Executive Committee resorted to this action after conducting a preliminary enquiry in April on the basis of a communication from the Union Ministry for Human Resource Development (HRD) detailing a number of complaints against Mr. Fanthome. Though the Ministry had been receiving regular complaints against Mr. Fanthome, it could not step in because the Council does not come under the direct control of the Government. The only interface between the Council and the Government is an HRD representative who is a member of the Executive Committee.

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