Bill in limbo, Ramadoss pushes for ordinance to fix Venugopal
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In the latest saga in a seemingly unending war between Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss and All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) director P Venugopal, the minister on Monday tabled a draft ordinance before the Union Cabinet, seeking to fix the term of AIIMS director. The ordinance, if passed, can evict Dr Venugopal from his post. Cabinet committee members, however, refused to bite the bullet.
Officials from the ministry, however, said "since the ordinance involved certain legal issues and needed the presence of the Law Minister who was not available then, the matter could not be taken up. However, it will be brought up again in future meeting".
Sources say the Health Minister has been trying to meet the Prime Minister for discussing the issue.
Meanwhile, a Bill seeking to amend the relevant Act (the AIIMS and the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research Bill), which was introduced in Parliament on August 17 this year, is awaiting legislative deliberations. It seeks to fix the term of the director for five years from the day the director assumes office or till he/she attains the age of 65, whichever is earlier.
"Once this Bill becomes law, it will also empower the Central Government to terminate the services of the director even before his term expires for the sake of public interest," said a senior official in the Health Ministry. "...provided that any person holding office as a director immediately before the commencement of the AIIMS and PGIMER Amendment Act, 2007 shall in so far as his appointment is inconsistent with the provision of the sub section, cease to hold office ... and shall be entitled to claim compensation not exceeding three months pay and allowances for the premature termination of his office or of any contract of service," the Bill underlines.
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