The Delhi High Court on Monday pulled up AIIMS forensic department head Sudhir Kumar Gupta for not serving the copy of his reply to the institute and other parties, observing that he was trying to “delay” the proceedings on a plea seeking his replacement.
“Counsel for petitioner (AIIMS) says that he has not received the copy of reply which has been filed by the respondent (Gupta). It has been found that copy of reply was posted at the address of AIIMS, which appears to be a delaying tactics on the part of respondent,” a bench of Justices G S Sistani and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal said.
During the brief hearing, Gupta who had earlier alleged discrimination after he claimed to have refused to act unprofessionally in the Sunanda Pushkar autopsy matter, said the way his replacement was being sought by All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) was not justified.
“Earlier, the convention adopted by the institute in replacing the head of a department was that either the incumbent was unavailable or he or she resigns from the post, only in those cases a new person was appointed,” Gupta’s counsel Senior Advocate Amarendra Sharan said.
To this, the bench observed, “you can’t continue to be a head of department forever.”
The counsel then alleged that Dr D N Bhardwaj, whose appointment as the new head of the Forensic Medicine and Toxicology Department is being sought by AIIMS, is not a competent person to hold the post.
“He (Bhardwaj) has Parkinson’s disease and he is the person who has left a bullet during an autopsy of victim in a Ponty Chadha case,” Sharan alleged, adding that Bhardwaj does not deserve to be the head of a department.
To this, the bench said “may be he has Parkinson’s disease of a very initial stage. This can’t be a ground for not allowing a person to be a head of department.”
The bench then posted the matter for September 3.
On July 1, the court had sought Gupta’s response on a plea by AIIMS seeking its permission to appoint Bhardwaj as the new head of its forensic department.
The application was moved by AIIMS against the backdrop of the court’s March 25 direction asking the institute to take its permission before replacing Gupta.
The court order had come on Gupta’s plea challenging 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 sensational murder case of Sunanda Pushkar Tharoor.
Gupta had also alleged that AIIMS had illegally purged his seniority with “malafide intention” to punish him for refusing to act unprofessionally in the autopsy matter.
BJP leader Subramanian Swamy had also filed an application seeking court’s permission to be heard in the matter.
Swamy informed the court that even though the issue related to service matter, the alleged controversy was of public interest and so he wanted to address the court on it.
The BJP leader said that Gupta’s decision not to give favourable report in the Pushkar case was correct.
In its application, AIIMS had said that Bhardwaj was senior to Gupta by four years and the latter had not challenged the former’s seniority either before CAT or in the high court.
Absolving former union minister and Congress leader Shashi Tharoor of the charge of any wrong-doing, CAT had said “the email sent by Shashi Tharoor, the then Union Minister, 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.”
In his complaint before the tribunal, Gupta had alleged he was asked to prepare tailor-made autopsy report giving clean chit, irrespective of his professional conclusions, after conducting autopsy on Pushkar’s body.
The government had denied the allegations before CAT on August 27 last year, stating that the matter regarding Murty’s promotion was referred to the Department of Personnel and Training and he was promoted only after its clarification.
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