In a setback to AIIMS Director P Venugopal, the Delhi high court on Thursday gave a green signal to the premier institute's governing body to decide on his continuance in the top slot while holding that he could not occupy the additional post of a professor.
The court also rejected Venugopal's contention that AIIMS, being an autonomous body, should not have the health minister as its president, saying the minister could be appointed as a nominee of the government to the institute's governing body.
"The competent authority (governing body) is free to proceed in accordance with law and on the basis of questionaire served upon the director to which he has already replied, and pass such orders with the prior approval of the government," a Division Bench comprising Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice H R Malhotra said.
The Bench vacated the order of a single bench of the court, which on October 18, 2006, had stayed all proceedings against the director without the court's approval.
Making it clear that an AIIMS director could not hold two posts, the court said, "On his appointment as a director, his lien on the post of professor should be terminated and steps should be taken to fill up the resultant vacancy without delay in the larger public interest."
The Bench also held that the director, who was an employee of the institute, had a tenure of five years and this could not be curtailed without justifiable reasons and prior notice to him.
On Venugopal's contention that AIIMS should not have the health minister as its president, it observed, "The minister of Health and Family Welfare is directly involved in the affairs of the institute and can be appointed as a nominee on the body of the institute by the government."