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AIIMS director's appointment was illegal, Centre to court

By R Balaji in New Delhi
September 14, 2006 19:43 IST
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In a new twist to the ongoing power tussle in All India Institute of Medical Sciences, the Centre has submitted in the Delhi high court that P Venugopal's appointment as director for a five-year tenure was "illegal" as it was made in violation of statutory rules of the prestigious institute.

In a sworn affidiavit, the Health Ministry contended that the appointment was effected by the institute's body in July 2003 by misleading the Appointment Committee of the Cabinet and the Intelligence Bureau by withholding the crucial fact that an appointee cannot be appointed to the post beyond the superannuation age of 62 years as laid down by the Supreme Court.

The Centre's submission was made in the context of a public interest litigation filed by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation challenging the appointment of the director.

Venugopal and the Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss have been engaged in a power struggle over the affairs of AIIMS over the past few months.

The PIL filed in June sought the quashing of Venugopal's appointment on the ground that he was aged 61 at the time of his apppointment in July 2003 and thus could not be appointed for a five-year tenure, as he would then retire only in 2009 at the age of 69. This would violate the superannuation age of 62 years.

Though it was the Health Ministry which had okayed Venugopal's appointment in 2003, the affidavit filed by the ministry claimed the action had violated the AIIMS Act and principles laid down in the L P Agarwal case by the apex court.

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R Balaji in New Delhi
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