NEW DELHI: The Bharatiya Janata Party has demanded the resignation of Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss following the Supreme Court virtually re-instating P. Venugopal as Director of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences who was ousted through an enactment of legislation limiting his tenure as Director to the age of 65 years.
“Either Mr. Ramadoss should resign, or else the Prime Minister should sack him,” BJP leader Sushma Swaraj, a former Health Minister said.
It was during her tenure as Health Minister that the noted cardiologist was appointed Director of AIIMS with a fixed tenure that would have kept him in his job well beyond the age of 65 years.
The Ramadoss-Venugopal battle became public and finally Dr. Venugopal was ousted after Parliament passed the AIIMS Amendment Act mandating retirement of AIIMS director on his/her attaining the age of 65 years.
It was on Dr. Venugopal’s petition challenging this that the apex court on Thursday gave its ruling finding fault with the law for targeting one individual.
Since Dr. Venugopal had been appointed during the rule of the National Democratic Alliance government, the controversy took on strong political colour, with the BJP batting enthusiastically for Dr. Venugopal and the United Progressive Alliance government backing its own Minister.
Asked whether the courts had overstepped their jurisdiction into the territory of the executive, Ms. Swaraj said “if a law is passed with dishonest intentions, the judiciary is well within its rights to strike it down.”
Senior BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu described the Court’s verdict as a “major setback to the UPA and another slap in its face.” He said the Court had also seen the legislation as a case of government interference in the affairs of an autonomous body.
Not against individual: Congress
Although the Congress said it would not comment adversely on a judicial judgment, party spokesman Shakeel Ahmed pointed out that the Act was not against any individual.
“It covered the AIIMS as well as the Post-Graduate Institute, Chandigarh.”
He said the government would examine the Supreme Court’s order in detail and decide its future course of action.