The Supreme Court on Monday refused to restore ousted AIIMS director P Venugopal, saying the parliamentary law fixing retirement age at 65 for the director of the medical institute couldn't be suspended.
A bench of Justice Tarun Chatterjee and Justice Dalveer Bhandari couldn't provide legal reprieve to the former head of the institute despite saying "We are with Dr Venugopal on the facts of the case".
"It (the bench) is finding it difficult to suspend the law," they added.
Venugopal had challenged the legality of AIIMS amendment bill, which President Pratibha Patil approved Friday. The health ministry immediately removed Venugopal as director and appointed TD Dogra in his place.
The law - All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, and Post Graduate Institute for Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh (Amendment) Act, 2007 - seeks to limit the tenure of the directors of the two institutes to a maximum of five years or till they reach the retirement age of 65, whichever is earlier.
The new law was viewed as a move by Health Minister A Ramadoss to remove Venugopal, with whom he has been involved in a bitter turf war. Venugopal, who has been associated with AIIMS for 42 years, is over 66 years of age.
According to the provisions of the original law passed in 1956, AIIMS directors are appointed for a fixed tenure of five years, irrespective of their age. Venugopal was named director in July 2003 at the age of 62 and was due to retire in July 2008 at the age of 67.