Slamming the Union Health Ministry for being “non-serious in tackling corruption at AIIMS”, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare, in its 87th report tabled in the House last week, has asked the ministry to ensure “expeditious investigations into all the corruption cases at AIIMS”. The committee has also sought a status report from the ministry within three months.
Chaired by the BSP’s Rajya Sabha member Satish Chandra Misra, the 31-member panel has 13 BJP MPs.
Earlier this month, in a petition to the Delhi High Court in an ongoing case of corruption in AIIMS, the Centre For Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) had claimed that the ministry was siting on 11 pending corruption cases at AIIMS.
Not a single new case had been sent to investigative agencies in the last one year, claimed CPIL. Assessing the functioning of the five AIIMS committees in its report, the panel said, “Though there are well laid-down rules, norms and procedure even for emergency situations, meetings of these committees are not held regularly, required details are not put in the agenda and sufficient time is not given and sometimes ex-post-facto approvals are taken. This suggests that the established structures do not seem to function as they should, which means there is a tendency to squeeze the decision-making process.”
The standing committee noted that professional autonomy of AIIMS should not mean autonomy of the AIIMS director, “resulting in freedom from observance of prescribed rules, regulations and procedures”.
The report recommended that “the maximum work should be done in the AIIMS committees because collective decision-making is the best antidote to corruption and nexus.”
Further, the standing committee said it was “perturbed to note that despite unraveling of corruption cases at AIIMS at regular intervals, the Ministry has done away with the regular Chief Vigilance Officer’s post at AIIMS and the role of anti-graft officer of AIIMS has been assigned to a Joint Secretary and CVO in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Evidently, the Ministry appears to be non-serious in tackling corruption in AIIMS.”
“The Committee strongly deprecates the non-serious approach of the Ministry towards tackling such a large number of cases of corruption at AIIMS and recommends that it should quickly move towards appointing a regular Chief Vigilance Officer of unblemished credentials at AIIMS,” the report said.