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THE NATIONAL Commission for Scheduled Castes on Thursday put on hold the ongoing selection process to select the director of Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER). The commission also summoned Union Health Secretary C K Mishra on November 17.
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The directions came after a body of Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes (SC/ST) employees at PGI wrote to the commission alleging discrimination against SC category candidates during the process to select the PGI director. The commission then issued summons directing the Union Health Secretary and PGI director to appear before the commission on Thursday.
The institute body (IB) of PGI last week recommended three names to the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) to select the institute director. Dr Anil Bhansali, head of endocrinology, Dr Meenu Singh, who is from the Department of Paediatrics, and Dr Jagat Ram, head, Advance Eye Centre, are the three names recommended for the post. The names were initially recommended by a selection committee constituted by the health ministry.
On Thursday, as the proceedings in the case started in New Delhi, the Joint Secretary of the health ministry and Prof K L N Rao, acting PGI director, appeared before the commission.
Ishwar Singh, a member of the Scheduled Castes, said that the commission issued directions to “put on hold” the ongoing selection process till the “commission is properly satisfied, with the entire selection process”. “We asked the Joint Secretary to explain the criteria to select the PGI director… he couldn’t provide any information. So we have now summoned the health secretary on November 17. The commission also issued direction to put the ongoing process of PGI director on hold till the commission is properly satisfied,” he said.
He said that the commission also asked the Joint Secretary “why no SC member was included in the selection committee, as already ordered by Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT)”.
Sources said acting PGI director Rao sought exemption in the next hearing, which was granted by the commission.
As many as 26 applicants had appeared before the selection committee which conducted the interviews last month. The committee is headed by Union Health Secretary C K Mishra and has Dr V M Katoch, former director general of ICMR, and Dr Shridhar Dwevedi from Hamdard Institute of Medical Sciences & Research, New Delhi, as members. Of the 26 candidates, five members were SC candidates.
Soon after the names were forwarded by the institute body to ACC, the SC&ST body wrote to the national commission terming the interview an “eyewash” by the selection committee. In the letter, accessed by Chandigarh Newsline, the body said that no SC member was included in the selection committee.
“No SC member was included in the selection committee. The committee interviewed 26 candidates including the five SC candidates. We had represented to the government about the non-inclusion of an SC member as per government practice and rules. However, our plea was not heeded to and the above committee went ahead with the interview. The interview was an eyewash and as expected, the SC candidates were not given justice by the committee,” read the letter.
The letter added, “… Dr Bhansali became professor in 2005 (seniority 37), Dr Meenu Singh became professor in 2008, whereas Dr Ram was professor since 2001 (seniority 8).”
The body had demanded that “request and cancellation of the entire process and the government be directed to redo the entire process following due procedure”.