The Indian Institutes of Management can soon give out degrees after the Cabinet on Tuesday approved a draft Bill granting full autonomy to the premier business schools in the country. At present, the IIMs only issue diplomas. The draft Bill aims to curtail the role of the government in the functioning of the institutes. According to the proposed Act, IIMs will now be “board-driven, with the chairperson and director selected by the board”, and not the Centre, reported Mint.

The Indian Institute of Management Bill, 2017, also allows the Board of Governors to initiate an investigation into an IIM director if they felt that the provisions of the proposed Act were not being followed properly. The investigation, the draft Bill says, has to be carried out by a high court judge or someone with higher authority.

An IIM director can even be sacked if the inquiry found him responsible for the shortcomings, however, not before the person is given a chance to explain. The proposed Act also “provides for periodic review of the performance of the independent agencies”. The review reports will be placed in the public domain.

IIM-Ahmedabad Director Professor Ashish Nanda said he has yet to see the final draft of the Bill. “Press Information Bureau release of 24 January and newspaper reports, as well as earlier assurances from the Minister suggest the Bill approved by the Cabinet adequately addresses IIMs’ concern about maintaining autonomy while ensuring accountability,” he said.

The Bill has been in the process of being finalised for the past four years. It has gone back and forth between the Human Resources Development Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office multiple times, with the latter reportedly pushing for greater autonomy for the management institutes. In its previous avatar, drafted while Smriti Irani was still the HRD minister, the Bill’s provisions were closer to those governing the Indian Institutes of Technology. The Indian Institutes of Management Bill, 2015, gave the government more powers in the administration of IIMs than anyone was comfortable with. In the draft cleared by the Cabinet on Tuesday, the government’s role was considerably reduced.

The HRD Ministry had not tabled the draft Bill in Parliament last year as it was felt that the draft needs further debate, reported The Indian Express. There are currently 19 IIMs in the country.