Venugopal ouster ‘naked discrimination’, rules court

May 10th, 2008 - 12:08 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Anbumani Ramadoss

New Delhi, May 9 (IANS) Coming down sharply on the government, the Supreme Court has termed the law enacted to sack noted cardiologist P. Venugopal as the director of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) as “naked discrimination” and a “one man-legislation” for his removal. A bench of Justices Tarun Chatterjee and H.S. Bedi made this observation in the verdict, delivered Thursday but released late Friday evening, while striking down the law as “unconstitutional”.

The bench ruled that the removal of Venugopal through a parliamentary legislation also violated his constitutional right to equality.

“It was a clear case of naked discrimination for removal of one man by depriving him of the constitutional protection,” said the bench in its ruling.

In its 58-page verdict, the apex court said that Venugopal would be entitled to his pay and other emoluments “as he was getting before premature termination of his office from the date of his order of termination”.

Venugopal, 66, whose five-year term is due to end July 2, had to quit office Nov 30, 2007, after parliament passed the amendment to the AIIMS Act fixing 65 years as the age of retirement of the AIIMS director.

Venugopal and Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss were locked in a bitter turf war over control of the prestigious institute.

“There was never any permissibility for any artificial and impermissible classification between Venugopal on the one hand and any future director of AIIMS on the other when it relates to the premature termination of the term of office of the director,” the bench observed.

The apex court made the observation while upholding Venugopal’s contention that the controversial law was enacted by the government with the sole purpose of sacking him.

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