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With AIIMS Director Dr R C Dekas term slated to end in September,the process of selection of the new chief of the premier medical institute has started.
The search committee,headed by Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad,is expected to meet on April 5 to discuss the matter. While pioneers in the medical fraternity across the country are expected to apply,within the institute,a few names – in the order of decreasing seniority are doing the rounds.
These include Dr G K Rath,chief of the Dr B R A Institute Rotary Cancer Hospital,Dr M C Misra,the chief of AIIMS Trauma Centre and Dr R V Azad,chief of the R P Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences.
A separate list of eligible faculty,who are below the age of 60 and can,therefore,complete their five-year tenure as director if selected,includes Dr V K Paul,head of the paediatrics department,Dr V K Behl,head of cardiology,and Dr S K Panda,head of pathology.
In 2007,Parliament had passed the AIIMS (Amendment ) Act,to fix the retirement age of the director as 65 years or the completion of five-year term,whichever comes first.
Sources said the search committee comprising several members of the AIIMS institute body,including Director General of Health Services,Vice-Chancellor of Delhi University,Secretary of Higher Education and Deputy Director (Administration) of AIIMS,among others,may give precedence to those below the age of 60,who can complete five years in the post.
The 2007 amendment had sparked a controversy after former director Dr P Venugopal,who had been caught in a public spat with former Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss,alleged that it was a move to remove him from the job since he was already 66 years of age,though the Delhi High Court had earlier ruled that he be allowed to complete his five-year term.
Director Dr R C Deka is slated to retire after a 4.5-year term at the end of September as he is completing 65 years.
Sources said while he had moved an application seeking an extension for another six months,it had not been cleared so far. In 2008,when the post had last opened after the retirement of Dr P Venugopal,over 70 doctors had applied for the post. Meanwhile,the faculty association of AIIMS has written to Azad on March 31,seeking an open and transparent system for the selection of the director.
The letter suggested that the process include public debate and,if possible,elections,quoting the example of the US Presidential polls.
The letter,according to sources,refers to the controversy surrounding the selection to the top post every time it is announced and suggests measures such as involvement of the faculty to smooth out the process.