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Recruitment skeletons in AIIMS closet

New Delhi, Dec. 21: The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) used unfair practices “designed to regularise” in-house teachers to fill posts for an entire decade, a health ministry inquiry has found.

The finding suggests several candidates from outside the campus were deprived of a chance to work in India’s premier medical institute.

If the ministry decides to risk charges of witch-hunt and a possible backlash, up to 70 faculty members who were promoted between 1993 and 2003 could be demoted. The AIIMS authority, called the Institute Body, accepted the inquiry report yesterday.

Government rules and court orders were flouted in appointing teachers at the institute from 1993 to 2003 under two different directors, the committee has found.

Standard government rules require institutes to publicly advertise for vacant posts, and treat outside applications on a par with those from their own teachers seeking promotions.

From 1993 to 2002, AIIMS did not advertise outside the campus for posts, instead promoting ad hoc appointees to full-time jobs as teachers.

During this period, 152 out of 219 ad hoc posts were filled “in an arbitrary manner”, the committee said in its report, a copy of which is with The Telegraph.

“It is sad to see the manner in which the rules were flouted by successive administrations to secure a coterie that would back them under all circumstances,” a senior official on the five-member inquiry team said.

In 2003, advertisements were issued in newspapers for 170 associate professors at the institute. In all, 762 people cleared the preliminary selection criteria and were called for interview. These included 151 assistant professors (a grade lower than associate professors) and 611 applicants from outside the AIIMS.

Among the 611 outside candidates were 209 reserved category candidates, the report says. But in the final selection, only 19 per cent of the seats went to applicants from outside the AIIMS, despite being “equally suitable candidates”, the committee has said.

“The committee concluded that the selection process lacked fairness and was designed primarily to regularise the existing ad hoc assistant professors in large numbers,” the report said.

Seventy of those selected between 1993 and 2003 were found to have poorer credentials than many other applicants who were not picked, the committee has said.

But the ministry is treading with caution on the 70 for fear that it may be accused of vindictiveness ó a charge levelled by an associate professor who was promoted from an ad hoc post in 2003.

“This is vindictiveness at its peak... nothing else. The health ministry is not satisfied with removing (former director) P. Venugopal, they want to remove anyone else who can challenge them,” the doctor from the pathology department said.

Several of the 70 faculty members are said to be close to Venugopal, who was expelled recently as director after a turf war with health minister Anbumani Ramadoss.

Although the controversial selections were made in the period just before Venugopal was appointed director, cases against the appointments were filed soon after he took over. The panel was set up in January.

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