The reinstatement of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) director P Venugopal and the striking down of the act that limits the tenure of the office is not a setback for the government, the ruling Congress said on Thursday.
As news came in of the Supreme Court ruling, All India Congress Committee (AICC) spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed said, however, that the government would "study the verdict and take a decision".
The Supreme Court said the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi and the Post Graduate Institute for Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh (Amendment) Act, 2007 was "malafide and unconstitutional".
The act, passed by the government in November 2007, limited 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.
After the act got presidential assent, Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss sacked Venugopal as AIIMS director.
Ramadoss and Venugopal, who was supposed to retire in July 2008, have been at loggerheads for the last few years. The tussle escalated during the anti-quota protests with Ramadoss alleging that the renowned cardiologist was helping students in their stir against 27 per cent reservation for other backward class (OBC) students in institutes of higher learning.
Reacting to the apex court verdict, Brinda Karat of the Communist Party of India-Marxists (CPI-M) leader and Rajya Sabha member said: "The Supreme Court has given the verdict and it's now for the government to react."
At the AIIMS campus, doctors, students and interns jumped in joy and distributed sweets.
Though Venugopal did not interact with media directly, he thanked the judiciary in a message through his junior doctors.
"Our director is happy and he has expressed his thanks towards the Supreme Court," Kaushal Mishra, a junior doctor, told IANS from Venugopal's residence.