The National Commission for Scheduled Castes has asked the union health ministry why the search panel for the appointment of PGIMER (Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research), Chandigarh director did not have the mandated representation of SC/ST members. The commission chairman P L Punia issued a notice on Friday to the union health secretary, asking him to appear personally to explain the matter on May 16.
P L Punia has also sought the ministry to send all records pertaining to the selection process. On April 21, PGIMER’s Institute Body (IB) finalised a panel of three doctors — Dr Yogesh K Chawla, HOD, Hepatology, PGIMER; Dr Amod Gupta, HOD, Ophthalmology, PGIMER; and Dr Raj Bahadur, director, Government Medical College and Hospital, Chandigarh for submission to the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC), chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, to take the final call on the appointment of the new PGIMER director. The incumbent director Dr K K Talwar is scheduled to retire on April 30.
The notice was issued on a petition sent on April 23 by Inder Raj, president, Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Employees Welfare Association, PGIMER, Chandigarh, which said neither the eight-member search panel headed by the union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad nor the four-member technical panel constituted later to shortlist candidates for the post had any SC/ST representatives, despite the central government rules mandating such representation for appointment to any group A, B, C and D posts.
The petition accuses the union government of systematic attempts to weed out four SC/ST candidates in the fray among the total 24. Among the shortlisted candidates finalised by the technical committee, one SC candidate — Dr Digambar Behera, professor, department of pulmonary medicine, PGIMER — figured, but he was not among the finalists, despite scoring marks equal to a general candidate who was a finalist.
It was earlier reported that the subcommittee constituted under directions of the selection committee, also headed by the union minister of health and family welfare, had granted Dr Yogesh Chawla 85 points, Dr Amod Gupta 80 points and both Dr Raj Bahadur and Dr Digambar Behera 77 points each.
The petition cites other irregularities, beginning with the PGIMER’s move to lift the 60-year cap (as applicable to AIIMS and AIIMS like institutes) on the upper age limit of the candidates. The petition asks why for the first time in PGIMER or AIIMS’ history, an interview system was introduced? “Even this interview was not conducted by the full panel which the DoPT (Department of Personnel and Training, government of India) had notified,” the petition states.
According to the petition submitted by Inder Raj, all the final three candidates for the post of PGIMER director are from the general category; one of these has no administrative experience while another candidate is above the age of 60 and another candidate has pending vigilance clearances.
One of the finalists – Dr Raj Bahadur – is believed to have a May 2007 vigilance inquiry pending. The CVC (Central Vigilance Commission) had reportedly advised the Chandigarh Administration to award Dr Bahadur “punishment not less than censure”. It is also reported that the UT administration sent Dr Bahadur’s vigilance status to the union health ministry only this week after much of the selection process was over.
It is believed that the candidate above 60 years is Dr Amod Gupta and the one who is claimed to be without administrative experience is Dr Yogesh K Chawla. But since Dr Chawla has the experience as head of PGIMER’s hepatology department, the perception that he lacks administrative experience seems to be misplaced.
In its petition, the SC/ST Employees Welfare Association, PGIMER, Chandigarh, has demanded that the entire procedure of selecting the PGIMER director should be scrapped and fresh selections be made as per the laid down norms of the government. [Source: Tribune, Indian Express, Times of India]