SK Choudhary takes charge as RIMS director on Wednesday. (Hardeep Singh)
Superintendent of Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) Dr S.K. Choudhary was given additional charge of director by the health department on Wednesday morning.
The decision to replace Dr Tulsi Mahto, who completed his three-year term as RIMS director on December 22 and was on extension, with Choudhary has drawn sharp criticism from a section of doctors.
Choudhary, a medical officer, does not meet the sole eligibility criterion for the director’s post. According to rules, only a professor can assume the RIMS top office.
A senior doctor said the change of guard was spurred by a disagreement between Mahto and the department on a Rs 208-crore project. “The director wanted to give the job to a national agency, but there were orders from the department to get it done locally,” he added, refusing to be named.
A doctor of professor rank also expressed dissatisfaction over the move. “It is a question of rules. Dr Mahto’s term was over last year. The governing body should have zeroed in on a suitable successor in November 2013 and given him charge when Dr Mahto’s term expired. Dr Choudhary cannot be accepted as director because he is not a professor,” the doctor said.
Sources in the health department said that there were four senior doctors who were eligible for the post. “Dean Dr S.N. Choudhary tops the list. Dr Vivek Kashyap, Dr A.K. Mahto and Dr R.L. Rajak would have been good choices, too. They were not chosen by babus because they are efficient and learned, and hence would not play puppet to bureaucracy,” said an official.
On whether he would legally challenge the department’s decision because there is a provision of a two-year extension in the RIMS rule book, Mahto said: “I cannot comment anything at this moment. There is already a case pending in high court regarding my extension. A hearing is scheduled on June 25.”
Asked if he considered himself eligible for the post, Choudhary said: “It is the department’s decision, not mine.”
Principal secretary (health) B.K. Tripathi could not be contacted for comments.
Doctors’ strike ends
Junior doctors at RIMS called off their strike on Wednesday after Bariatu police arrested one Nitu Devi in connection with the assault on a lady doctor. The doctors had gone on strike on Tuesday after relatives of one Shoma Kumari, who delivered a stillborn baby, assaulted junior doctor Neha Deen on Monday.