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Venugopal’s turn to sack

New Delhi, July 8: A day after being reinstated as AIIMS director, P. Venugopal threw a fresh challenge at A. Ramadoss by sacking a senior hospital official who had sided with the health minister in the recent standoff.

A triumphant Venugopal walked into his office surrounded by TV cameras this morning, the high court having stayed his dismissal by Ramadoss.

Within an hour, he had put his signature on a notice sacking registrar V.K. Gupta for “violating Supreme Court orders”.

Gupta had last week refused to carry out Venugopal’s order to release the salaries of doctors who had struck work during the anti-quota protests in May.

“His decision was in violation of the Supreme Court order,” Venugopal said.

The apex court, seeking to bring the 19-day doctors’ strike to an end, had said on May 31 that “no punitive action” should be taken against them if they immediately went back to work.

But Ramadoss cited the government’s standard “no work, no pay” policy to declare two weeks later that the striking doctors would not be paid for the period of their agitation. The Venugopal-Gupta clash over salary release came on June 30.

The director today needled the minister some more by announcing that AIIMS doctors who had struck work for most of the past three days in protest against the attempt to sack him would be paid for this period.

Yesterday, Ramadoss had said they wouldn’t be.

The dismissal of Gupta, many doctors at the institute suggested, might be Venugopal’s way of “seeking revenge for the ministry sacking those close to him”.

These loyalists included financial manager Mayank Sharma, sub-dean Neerja Bhatla and media-in-charge Aarti Vij, all sacked by the ministry on June 14.

“He is just hitting back,” said a doctor, B.K. Dash.

The “appointments and removals” section of the AIIMS Regulations Act (1956) says that only the institute president (a post Ramadoss now holds) or the governing body can remove a class A or B officer. The registrar is a class A officer.

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