The Indian Psychiatric Society (IPS) has expressed concern about the appointment of a non-psychiatrist as the director of the Central Institute of Psychiatry (CIP), the century-old premier mental healthcare facility located at Kanke in Ranchi.
The Union health and family welfare ministry issued an order on Friday afternoon, appointing Dr Tarun Kumar as the director of the CIP "on officiating basis with immediate effect". He was holding charge of the National Centre for Disease Control in Ranchi.
Dr Basudeb Das, who was removed as the CIP director, had been holding the post since February 2020.
The Centre directed Das to "hand over charge of CIP director to Dr Kumar immediately and send compliance report to this ministry by 5 pm" the same day.
The Society which represents around 9,000 psychiatrists across the country said unlike Das, Kumar was not a psychiatrist.
In a letter addressed to Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya, the Society said "reportedly no reason has been communicated for this drastic action". The letter, signed by IPS president Dr Vinay Kumar and general secretary Dr Arabinda Brahma, resented that the charge of the CIP director "has been handed over to a non-specialist medical officer".
The letter went on to say the CIP "is one of the apex centres of psychiatry training and research in the country and we, the members of the IPS, express concern at the hurried action as a result of which the charge of an apex institute has been handed over to a non-psychiatrist".
"We feel this may not be in the best of interest for the stream of psychiatry in general and the CIP in particular, " the letter further said, adding "the developments were unfortunate and appointing a non-psychiatrist director is against the spirit of the Mental Healthcare Act of 2017".