Apex court reserves verdict on sacked AIIMS chief’s plea

March 12th, 2008 - 9:53 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, March 12 (IANS) The Supreme Court Wednesday reserved its verdict on noted cardiologist P. Venugopal’s plea, questioning the legality of a law under which he was ousted as director of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). A bench of Justice Tarun Chaterjee reserved the verdict after it heard the concluding arguments by counsel for both the cardiologist and the central government.

Venugopal has questioned the law - the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, and Post Graduate Institute for Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, (Amendment) Act, 2007 - that limited the tenure of the directors of these two institutes to a maximum of five years or till they reached the retirement age of 65.

Arguing for Venugopal, senior advocate Arun Jaitley contended that the central government brought in amendment solely to remove the eminent cardiologist from the post of AIIMS director.

“The amendment to the AIIMS Act pertaining to the fixation of upper age for the director at 65 is discriminatory against the distinguished cardiologist and needs to be quashed,” said Jaitley.

He contended that the amendment was illegal as the Delhi High Court had in March last year permitted his continuance in the post.

The new law was viewed as a move of Health Minister A. Ramadoss to remove Venugopal, with whom he was involved in a bitter turf war.

According to the provisions of the original law passed in 1956, AIIMS directors were appointed for a fixed tenure of five years, irrespective of their age.

Arguing for the government, Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramanian asserted that “a parliamentary law cannot be rendered illegal on the grounds of malafide” of the government.

“The allegations of malafide (by the government) in passing the law cannot be transferred to parliament,” contended Subramanian.

He contended that the government had enacted the law as per a Delhi High Court ruling last October, which had asked the government to enact a proper law governing the tenure of the AIIMS director and save it from the prospects of litigations and also to enhance its prestige.

At this, Jaitley contended that the ruling, on the grounds of which the government was now justifying the law, had been challenged by the government itself before the apex court.

He contended that by enacting the law, the government has encroached upon the domain of the judiciary, ignoring the principle of separation of powers in the parliamentary democracy.

Making a fervent plea to suspend the law, Jaitley pointed out to the court that this law would be applicable to only one person, namely Venugopal.

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