Venugopal back as AIIMS director; faculty celebrates ‘Diwali’

May 8th, 2008 - 9:35 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Anbumani Ramadoss

New Delhi, May 8 (IANS) Hours after the Supreme Court quashed his ouster, P. Venugopal was back on his seat as All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) director, almost six months after he was unceremoniously thrown out. Accompanied by senior faculty members and resident doctors, Venugopal, 66, came to the office, sat for a while on the director’s chair and left soon after, said Vinod Khaitan, the AIIMS Faculty Association president.

Venugopal, who was involved in a bitter turf war with Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss, was appointed to the post on July 3, 2003, for a five-year term. His term was to end July 2 this year. However, he was removed in November last year after the government passed a legislation limiting the tenure of the director to a maximum of five years or till they reach the retirement age of 65, whichever is earlier.

AIIMS Deputy Director (Administration) Shailash Kumar Yadav, asked to comment on the cardiologist resuming charge, told IANS: “I have not received any communication about this. I don’t know.”

The health ministry was also mum on Venugopal resuming charge. The detailed court verdict is to be released only on Monday.

But Khaitan, a known Venugopal supporter, said the cardiologist had already assumed charge.

“He signed official papers. We don’t want to go into details,” he said, when queried as to how Venugopal could resume charge without an official intimation. “It is a moment of celebration. We are relishing the moment. We are going to celebrate Diwali today and there will be fireworks,” Khaitan told IANS.

Justices Tarun Chatterjee and H.S. Bedi said it was evident that the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, and the Post Graduate Institute for Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh (Amendment) Act, 2007 was enacted with the sole purpose to target the cardiologist.

The bench described as “malafide and unconstitutional” the union government’s law to fix the retirement age of the AIIMS director at 65 years.

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