Venugopal gets relief, strike off | india | Hindustan Times
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Venugopal gets relief, strike off

The Delhi High Court on Friday stayed the government's move to sack AIIMS director P Venugopal.

india Updated: Jul 08, 2006 02:10 IST

The Delhi High Court on Friday stayed the government's move to sack AIIMS director P Venugopal.

Justice Anil Kumar said: “The decision of the AIIMS governing body dated July 5 is stayed, and the government and AIIMS are restrained from giving effect to the said order.” This will give Venugopal time in office at least till August 17 when the case comes up next in court.

Doctors at AIIMS hailed the stay and decided to end their strike after a general body meeting. They returned to work later in the evening.

The court has also issued notice to the Centre, the health minister, AIIMS and the Election Commission and sought their replies within two weeks on the petition filed by Venugopal challenging his ouster.

Notice to the EC was significant as Venugopal had sought Health Minister A. Ramadoss's disqualification on the ground that he held an office of profit as the president of AIIMS.

The stay came after the Centre failed to convince the court that the sacking decision was justified and did not violate the institute's statute.

Venugopal's counsel Arun Jaitley told the court that his client had a "fixed tenure" and had been "illegally removed by citing unjustified and non-existent reasons". The Centre argued that Venugopal's ouster "in public interest" was legal as per the AIIMS Act. Additional solicitor-general Gopal Subramanium said the government had come to the conclusion that Venugopal was a failure as a director.

Minutes after the court's stay, Venugopal said he would not compromise on AIIMS's dignity and continue fighting for its autonomy. Ramadoss said he would challenge the stay in the Supreme Court. He said punitive action would be taken against the agitating faculty and students. "I hope they join duty on Saturday. If they don't, we'll decide the course of action. There will be salary cut for the period they are on strike and the ministry will also issue notices," he said.

But the doctors made it clear that they would return to strike if action was taken against them. AIIMS RDA president Dr Vinod Patro said: "If the faculty and students are again going to be suspended for boycotting work, we've no other option but to intensify the strike. The minister cannot keep on threatening us."