Home India News Apex court to hear Venugopal’s plea Friday

Apex court to hear Venugopal’s plea Friday


New Delhi : The Supreme Court will Friday hear two petitions, including one by All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) director P. Venugopal, challenging the legality of a bill passed by parliament that paves the way for his exit.

The bill, passed by both houses of parliament Wednesday and awaiting President Pratibha Patil’s assent for its notification, was also challenged by the Faculty Association of AIIMS (FAIMS) in the apex court.

The two petitions are likely to come up for brief hearing Friday before the bench headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan.

The proposed law, titled All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, and Post Graduate Institute for Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh (Amendment) Act, 2007, seeks to limit the tenure of the directors of the two institutes to a maximum of five years or till they reach the retirement age of 65, whichever is earlier.

According to the provisions of the original law passed in 1956, AIIMS directors are appointed for a fixed tenure of five years, irrespective of their age.

Venugopal, 66, was appointed director in July 2003 at the age of 63 and is due to retire as director in July 2008 at the age of 67.

He contended that the new law was being enacted by the government solely to ease him out of his office owing to “Union Health Minister A. Ramadoss’s obsessive and compulsive dislike for him”.

Venugopal contended that from the fact that the proposed law provides for its implementation with retrospective effect it was evident that the law was aimed solely to target him and ease him out of office.

He pleaded to the court to suspend the implementation of the law till the apex court decides upon his plea to declare it unconstitutional and annul it.

He said that the Supreme Court in its two rulings in 1992 and 1996 had held that the AIIMS director has a fixed tenure of five years, irrespective of age, which cannot be curtailed without any valid and justifiable reason.

He pointed out that even the Delhi High Court on two occasions, July 7, 2006, and Oct 10, 2006, had held that the AIIMS director has a fixed tenure of five years, which cannot be curtailed at the whims and fancies of the political bosses.

The high court had given its rulings on petitions by Venugopal, challenging Health Minister Ramadoss’ order sacking him on the basis of a resolution passed by the AIIMS governing body at his instance, based on the accusation of unfair dealings in the running of the hospital.

Venugopal and his AIIMS faculty colleagues contended in their petitions that the new law would seriously jeopardise the autonomy and functioning of premier institutes like AIIMS, New Delhi, and PGIMER, Chandigarh.

The two petitioners sought the court’s directions to restrain the government from appointing any minister as the president or an executive member of the governing body of the institutes.