The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Blow to Ramadoss

New Delhi, July 7: Health minister Anbumani Ramadoss ' and the government ' today suffered the humiliation of being stopped in their tracks on the removal of P. Venugopal, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences director.

The rules governing AIIMS, however, suggest that there was no procedural lapse nor a breach of its autonomy in the institute body’s dismissal of Venugopal, sections of its faculty said.

Delhi High Court’s stay of the dismissal was not the only blow to Ramadoss. It also issued a notice to the Election Commission on a plea by the cardiac surgeon seeking the minister’s disqualifica-tion from Parliament on the ground that he was holding an “office of profit” as AIIMS president.

Resident doctors and faculty members of the hospital, who went on a strike to protest Venugopal’s removal, suspended their protest until further court orders.

The judge gave the government and AIIMS two weeks to come back to it with replies.

Ramadoss said later that “all legal courses of action”, including an appeal in the Supreme Court, would be taken.

Venugopal, who will return to work, said: “I am looking forward to maintaining the autonomy and dignity of the institute for which I have always fought.”

The BJP and faculty members supporting Venugopal have argued that the institute body had violated established norms and evaded normal procedure, particularly as Venugopal’s removal was not even on its agenda.

The Indian Medical Association had decried the dismissal, describing it as an attack on autonomy.

The regulations of AIIMS, however, provide significant powers to the health minister in his capacity as president.

Paragraph 9 says: “The president may include in the agenda at any time before or during a meeting fresh items of business or items supplementary to those included in the agenda, and such items shall also be taken up for consideration.”

The regulations reveal other executive powers of the president. “Even the casual leave of the director needs to be sanctioned by the president,” said a senior faculty member.

Only the president has the power to permit officers to go abroad on work for any period exceeding 30 days.

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