Friday, November 30, 2007

Creating a law to target specific individuals - Dr. Venugopal

Everybody now knows about the ongoing dispute between the Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss and the AIIMS Director P Venugopal (who is an eminent cardiac surgeon). This has been an ongoing dispute that has been going on and on, with a lot of discussions and dispute being parlayed through the media, and with the gutless Prime Minister not doing anything to rein in this dispute or to prevent the washing of dirty linen in public.
And now the Government has decided that it will show the AIIMS Director as to who exactly the boss is. The AIIMS Director in the past has won the various court cases where he was at loggerheads with the Health Minister, a move no doubt that would have enraged the health minister even more. And with the DMK being a reliable partner and one providing critical political support, the issues about autonomy of institutions and non-interference obviously do not count.
So, in an incredible law, the Government brought in a law that was primarily targeted at the AIIMS Director, setting an age limit of 65. The net effect of this law was that as soon the President signed the bill, the Government could then order the removal of Dr. Venugopal. And there has been almost no major protest against this law, which when seen in context, is an incredible attack on the autonomy of an institutions:

Hours after the Presidential assent to a Bill enabling his removal, the government on Friday night sacked eminent cardiac surgeon P Venugopal as AIIMS Director with whom Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss was locked in a long-running turf war in the prestigious institution.
The dismissal of 66-year-old Venugopal came shortly after President Pratibha Patil signed the controversial Bill passed by Parliament two days ago fixing the age limit of 65 years for AIIMS Director, seen as a move to ease out the cardiac surgeon.

This action happened even after it was clear that the Supreme Court will hear a petition on Monday to whether this law is valid. In case the Supreme Court orders a reversal of the law or rules that it will apply only to future cases, then Government will face a humiliating reversal.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 7:04 PM