Facing criticism for the sudden transfer of Keshav Desiraju from the post of Health Secretary, the Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has written to Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth seeking to clarify his position before the Prime Minister.

The four-page explanation, written on February 24, followed a strongly worded letter to the Prime Minister sent by many members of civil society and former bureaucrats in which they said Mr. Desiraju’s transfer violated a Supreme Court order that fixed the tenure of senior bureaucrats. They also charged that the Health Secretary was shifted because he had been resisting the return of a former chairperson of the Medical Council of India (MCI) to the Council.

Mr. Desiraju was transferred to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs on February 11 and Mr. Azad described it as a routine posting, though the timing of the transfer had been questioned.

While Mr. Azad refused to respond to queries from media, his letter to the Cabinet Secretary cites purported instances which had caused “embarrassment” to the Ministry and claimed that the repercussions (of Mr. Desiraju’s work) “would be witnessed in due course.”

The Minister also sought to blame the official for several court cases related to the MCI, recent strike by doctors in the National Capital over two years mandatory rural posting and errors in budgetary allocations. Mr. Desiraju’s contribution to the Health Ministry was, in Mr. Azad’s view, “negligible.”

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