Staff Reporter

Government has two weeks to file reply

  • Government has two weeks to file reply
  • Governing body illegally constituted: petition
  • Government sitting on Rajya Sabha panel report

    NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court has threatened to restrain Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss and Union Health Secretary P.K. Hota from attending meetings of the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences' (AIIMS) governing body if the Centre fails to file within two weeks a reply to a petition seeking its dissolution.

    Dr. Ramadoss is president and Mr. Hota secretary of the governing body.

    Justice Anil Kumar in July directed the Centre to file within four weeks a reply to the petition filed by a group of AIIMS doctors.

    When the matter was taken up for hearing on Thursday, the Centre, without giving any reason, informed the court that it had not filed a reply.

    Taking umbrage at the defiance, Mr. Justice Kumar said he would debar the president and the secretary from attending meetings of the body.

    The petitioners urged the court to dissolve the governing body, alleging that it was illegally constituted as the AIIMS Act barred the nomination of the Health Minister and the Union Health Secretary to it. The petitioners sought directions for constituting a new governing body excluding the two. The petition pointed out that a Rajya Sabha committee in 1996 recommended that the practice of nominating the Health Minister and the Health Secretary be discontinued, pointing out that doing so would affect AIIMS' autonomy and convert it into a government department. But the Government was sitting on the recommendations.

    "Form experts panel"

    The petitioners urged the court to direct the Government to constitute a high-level committee of eminent persons to manage the institute so that its autonomous character would be preserved.

    The matter will come up on September 27 for further hearing.