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Health ministry distances itself from AIIMS stand now

Health ministry distances itself from AIIMS stand now
A new development has come up in the Sunanda Pushkar unnatural death case during the hearing at the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT). The ministry of health and family welfare has distanced itself from the stand taken by AIIMS in the case before the CAT, where the head of its forensic medicine department Dr Sudhir Gupta has challenged an attempt to supersede him. 

According to well-placed sources, the counsel for ministry of health and family welfare surprised everybody during the hearing on Friday claiming that his client has not been taken into confidence by the AIIMS authorities before filing the affidavit. He apprised the court, according to sources, that following a representation by Dr Gupta to union health minister Harsh Vardhan, the matter was under investigation and AIIMS was yet to share the Minutes of Board of Governors’ meeting held on 12 May, 2014.

The counsel insisted the ministry would file an affidavit independently of AIIMS. While granting two weeks’ time for filing of affidavit by the health ministry, the court summoned the minutes of controversial board meeting. Observers said the stand of the ministry was a marked departure from the earlier hearing where it had gone along with AIIMS. Gupta in his presentation before the CAT has sought relief for being victimised by AIIMS director MC Mishra and the then health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, who was also ex-officio chairman of AIIMS.

It’s pertinent to mention here that Dr Gupta has filed a case before the principal CAT bench at New Delhi regarding the promotion of another member of the faculty of forensic medicine department. 

Hearing the matter on Friday, a bench headed by AK Bhardwaj directed the health ministry and AIIMS to file their responses in connection with the case. It also sought the minutes of AIIMS general body meeting held on 12 May, where a decision to elevate Dr OP Murthy as head of the AIIMS forensic department was taken. Advocate Naushad Ahmad Khan, who appeared on behalf of the ministry, told the tribunal the ministry has sought records pertaining to the case from AIIMS and it needs two weeks to file a reply. 

AIIMS counsel Mehmood Pracha said, ‘AIIMS cannot take any disciplinary action against him (Gupta) as the matter is pending in the court.’ The tribunal set 30 July as the next date of hearing.
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