Justifying its move to sack Dr P. Venugopal, the Centre on Friday told the Delhi High Court he was a “miserable failure” as a director and his continuance was highly detrimental to the future of the premiere institute.
“Venugopal may be an eminent cardiologist. But administration is a different cup of tea. He has been a miserable failure in this regard,” the Centre said.
The comments from Additional Solicitor-General Gopal Subramanium, who represented the Centre, came when Justice Anil Kumar asked him pointedly how they justified the sacking to be “in public interest”.
He said Health Minister A. Ramadoss had received many representations from AIIMS’ faculty, who had serious reservations about him. They had no access to the director and instead would be asked to meet his secretary.
The Centre said a “caucus”, which is taking all the important decisions, surrounds Venugopal.
“Work atmosphere has deteriorated and the massive exodus — 28 doctors, including two heads of departments — ever since he took over speaks for itself. Therefore, we felt it was high time to remove him,” Subramanium said.
The Centre said as the president of AIIMS, Ramadoss was forced to intervene.
Stating the Centre was in favour of giving him a graceful exit, Subramanium revealed Ramadoss, through the Health Secretary had thrice conveyed to him the government was against his continuance and asked him to resign.
He said sacking, “a decision we took in anguish”, was the last resort as the Centre’s priority was the future of the institution. “We had to separate the chaff from the grain.”
Justice Kumar then asked Subramanium why the agenda of dismissal was not circulated in the governing body meeting.
He replied it was placed on the agenda once the meeting began as till the last minute they were hopeful that Venugopal would put in his papers.
Responding to the Centre’s contentions, Jaitley said it showed the minister’s arbitrary attitude. “A tenure post cannot be curtailed. If two persons cannot work together then one has to go? Hire and fire policy is not acceptable.”