Apparently admitting to lapses in the procedure adopted while sacking AIIMS director P Venugopal, the Centre has said it will withdraw the decision and take a “fresh look” at the whole issue. The offer was made on Tuesday when a Delhi HC division bench threatened to dismiss the Centre's appeal against a single-bench order staying Venugopal's dismissal.
“We’ll not interfere when a single bench is seized with the matter," said the division bench headed by acting Chief Justice Vijender Jain.
Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss described the Centre's move as a delay in procedure, not intention. "The Centre has reserved its right to pursue the matter as directed by the court and the matter will once again be put before the institute body, along with charges against the director submitted before the division court and some more that have come up since then."
"In the face of newer allegations against Dr Venugopal — like the questionable stem-cell research project and negligence leading to death mentioned in a cardiac surgeon's book on AIIMS — we’ll start a fresh process to present the issue before the governing body," said Ramadoss.
In the HC, urging the bench to give a hearing, Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium said the Centre was willing to withdraw the order sacking Venugopal and wanted to take a fresh look at the issue. He said the government wished to make the decision "more transparent and democratic" by giving a copy of "whatever material we're relying on against him" to the director, and circulating it among all governing-body members and the faculty. Subramanium withdrew the appeal after completing his submissions.
On July 8, while staying Venugopal's dismissal, the single bench had pointed out "various lapses" on the part of AIIMS and the government. On Monday, the Centre had moved the HC, seeking the quashing of the single-bench order.