Bill limiting upper age limit for AIIMS Director passed in Lok Sabha

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New Delhi, Nov 22 (UNI) A Bill fixing upper age limit for Directors of prestigious Central medical institutes -- AIIMS, New Delhi and PGI, Chandigarh -- was passed by the Lok Sabha amid walk-out by NDA, accusing the government of enacting the legislation only to ''settle scores'' with AIIMS Director P Venogopal.

However, the Bill which amended both the All India Institute of Medical Sciences Act, 1956 and the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, Act 1966 also removed clauses in the two Acts which empowered the governing body of the two institutes to terminate term of the Director at any time before the expiry of his term by giving him a thre month notice or compensatory allowances in lieu thereof.

Replying to the debate on the Bill, Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss said the government was committed to retain the autonomy of these premier institutions and the Bill had not diluted the autonomy in any sense.

The two separate Acts were amended to provide for an umbrella legislation. The new law has been named as The All India Institute of Medical Sciences and Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (Amendment) Act, 2007.

The Bill passed by voice vote by the House says, ''The Director shall hold office for a term of five years from the date on which he enters upon his office until he attains the age of sixty five, which ever is earlier.'' However, it further adds ''provided that any person holding office as a Director immediately before the commencement of this Bill becoming the Act, shall in so far as his appointment is inconsistent with the provision of the above clause, ceased to hold office and shall be entilted to claim compensation not exceeding three months pay and allowances for premature termination of his office or any contract of service.'' Evidently, Dr Venugopal crossed age of 65 as he was one-and-a-half year older when he was appointed as the Director of AIIMS for five years. Later, Dr Venugopal got further extension in the office.

The Opposition charged the government with bringing the Bill to only to remove Dr Venugopal who is now left with a tenure of only six months.

The tussle between Dr Ramadoss, who is also the chairman of the AIIMS governing body and Dr Venugopal has been splashing in the media for the past one-and-a-half years with the Minister charging the Director of discriminating against OBC and SC/ST students, doctors and emoployees.

On the other hand the AIIMS Director said the Minister had been illegaly interfering in the Institute matters, in contravention of its autonomous status.

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