Hyderabad University Vice Chancellor Appa Rao Podile on Tuesday received an award from Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his contribution in the field of bio-tech and higher education. He was conferred with the ‘Millennium Plaques of Honour’ at the Indian Science Congress held in Tirupati. Six Nobel laureates also received awards for their contributions, reported PTI.

Podile was in the news after Rohith Vemula, Dalit scholar at the university, committed suicide on January 17, 2016, accusing the administration of caste-based discrimination. The VC was also named in the First Information Report filed in the case along with Union minister Bandaru Dattatreya. Days before he killed himself, Vemula was suspended from the university along with five other students for allegedly assaulting an Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad leader. University students held protests for days seeking Podile’s resignation after Vemula’s death.

The VC said he got the award for his guidance and leadership in the field of science and technology. “I am on the Department of Science and Technology’s Programme Advisory Committee on Plant Sciences and also a member of the Task Force for Biological Agents for Agriculture for the last 10-12 years,” he said.

The Ministry of Science and Technology said the Centre had nothing to do with the awards and the decision was taken by the Indian Science Congress. “The [S&T] department has no role to play in this. The awards are decided by the Indian Science Congress, which is an autonomous body,” Department of Science and Technology Secretary Ashutosh Sharma said.