The Delhi High Court has come to the rescue of the head of AIIMS forensic department Sudhir Kumar Gupta — who had alleged discrimination for refusing to act unprofessionally in the Sunanda Pushkar autopsy matter — and asked the Institute not to replace him without its permission.
“Without expressing any opinion on the contentions raised by the petitioner (Gupta), we direct the respondent No 1/AIIMS to take leave of this court in the event of any contemplation at their end to replace the petitioner from the post of HoD,” a bench of Justice Kailash Gambhir and Justice I S Mehta had said in an order issued on March 25.
The bench also issued notices to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and AIIMS seeking their reply on Gupta’s plea by July.
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Gupta had challenged a March 4 decision of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) rejecting his charge that one Dr O P Murty was promoted after purging his seniority, with the purpose of obtaining a tailor-made report in the Sunanda Pushkar murder case.
He also alleged that AIIMS had illegally purged his seniority with “malafide intention” to punish him for refusing to act unprofessionally in the autopsy matter.
Senior advocate Amarendra Sharan, appearing for Gupta, had submitted that the doctor was appointed HoD in 2013 after taking into consideration his seniority as Professor (Forensic Medicine and Toxicology).
He said there was “serious apprehension” that in light of the CAT decision, which was now under challenge, AIIMS may decide to replace him by appointing Murty or anyone else.
In its order issued last month, the CAT had held that it did not find any evidence of pressure being put by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on AIIMS regarding the autopsy.
“The email sent by Tharoor to Dr Rajiv Bhasin on January 26, 2014 and the notice dated June 2, 2014 issued by Dr Adarsh Kumar, Member Secretary, Medical Board, AIIMS, do not reveal anything to show that any pressure was put on the applicant to submit a tailor-made autopsy report in Sunanda Pushkar’s case.”
Seeking quashing of CAT’s verdict and the decision by AIIMS to promote Murty, Gupta’s counsels said the decision was likely to “severely affect the seniority and career progression of the petitioner and his functioning as Head of Department”.