New Delhi, Oct. 10: Sandwiched between an investigation into caste discrimination at AIIMS and fresh charges of mismanagement after the dengue outbreak, director P. Venugopal allowed himself a brief, faint smile as he stepped out of Delhi High Court today.
Minutes earlier, the court had passed an injunction against possible dismissal of Venugopal from his post at the upcoming meeting of the AIIMS governing body.
Nor can the body — headed by health minister Anbumani Ramadoss — take any other punitive action against Venugopal at the meeting, the order said.
The date for the meeting, expected to take place later this month, is still to be finalised. But Venugopal had on Friday filed for the injunction, fearing that the governing body may dismiss him for the second time in less than four months.
The health minister, locked in a long tussle with Venugopal, lost the first round as the high court stayed the director’s dismissal by the governing body in July.
The health ministry’s main grouse against Venugopal then was his implicit support in allowing AIIMS to become the nerve centre of the anti-reservation agitation in May. The governing body had cited this as a case of mismanagement while sacking him.
In the three months since, Venugopal’s challenges have only mounted.
The biggest worry comes from allegations of caste discrimination on the campus, which are being investigated by an independent committee set up by the health ministry. “He (Venugopal) is concerned about the findings and report of the committee. After all, the matter — caste discrimination — is very sensitive,” an aide said.
In the month since it was set up, the committee has already found significant evidence to support allegations of discrimination against SC/ST students, as first reported by The Telegraph.
The committee is also learnt to be dissatisfied with the administration’s response to the discrimination.
“It was surprising that the AIIMS administration had not even seen some of the evidence we produced, which targeted students say they brought to their notice,” a member of the committee has said.
Health ministry officials are also targeting the director over what they term as inadequate response to the dengue outbreak in the capital.
But Venugopal’s aides said overcrowding is the main problem, for which the director cannot be blamed.
“There is little the director can do if anyone in Delhi with the slightest of fever descends on AIIMS to get tested for dengue. The infrastructure here is, after all, limited,” a doctor said.