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AIIMS director Misra in trouble: RS MPs seek privilege motion

Vishakh Unnikrishnan | Updated on: 3 August 2016, 17:41 IST

MC Misra, the director of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, is in hot water. The top man at the country's premier medical institute is facing action from three Rajya Sabha MPs, who have accused him of breach of privilege.

MPs Ali Anwar Ansari of the Janata Dal (United), Ritabrata Banerjee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Munawwar Saleem of the Samajwadi Party have written to the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, Vice-President Mohammad Hamid Ansari, requesting him to summon Misra for the breach of privilege.

A breach of privilege is an activity by an individual that causes 'casting reflections' on MPs, the Parliament or its committees. This includes publishing of news items, editorials or statements made in newspaper/magazine/TV interviews or in public speeches.

The crux of the matter

The matter began with a Parliamentary Standing Committee report on health and family welfare, which was tabled in Parliament in August 2015.

The committee slammed the health ministry's approach towards tackling a large number of corruption cases at AIIMS, calling it 'non-serious'.

Then, in June 2016, AIIMS filed an affidavit in the Delhi High Court, which was cleared by director Misra, debunking the Parliamentary Standing Committee's report.

The affidavit read: "Observations of the Parliamentary Committee as mentioned in paragraph 5 of the writ petition is based on no foundation. Moreover, the said observation have no legal sanctity and is not binding. It is merely in the nature of recommendation [sic]."

The committee's observations

The Parliamentary Standing Committee also stated that it was perturbed to find that even after various corruption cases had come to light at AIIMS, the ministry remained aloof. Of particular concern was the fact that the ministry decided to do away with the chief vigilance officer post at AIIMS, and decided to substitute and transfer the role of anti-graft officer to a joint secretary in the ministry.

The committee also spelt out various corruption allegations and cases against the medical institute, which involved senior directors and doctors within the institute. The list includes disproportionate assets cases, cases involving procurement of computers and peripherals without following adequate procedure, irregularities in the appointments of officials under sports quota, and massive irregularities in payments to contractors, among others.

In some of these cases, the director of the institute has been directly named. In others, senior officials of the institute and the health ministry have also been named.

The report added: "The committee adds that though it is all for the professional autonomy of AIIMS, autonomy should not mean autonomy of the director, resulting from freedom from observance of prescribed rules regulations and procedures."

In a lot of these cases, the then-CVC of AIIMS, Sanjiv Chaturvedi, had recommended actions against various officials within the institute, including their dismissal. But in most cases, a final decision never came from the health ministry.

Must read- Corruption in AIIMS: whistleblower Sanjiv Chaturvedi intensifies fight with JP Nadda

The committee report also mentioned the controversial removal of Chaturvedi, who had approached the Delhi High Court alleging harassment for uncovering corruption cases, and naming the authorities that had tried to evade probes in multiple corruption cases in the institute.

It is Chaturvedi's allegation that the AIIMS affidavit sought to rebut, in addition to defending its administrators against corruption charges.

Allegations against Misra

JD(U) MP Ansari had previously sought a CBI investigation into an alleged procurement scam at the AIIMS Trauma Centre. He had also repeatedly mentioned that according to guidelines set by AIIMS itself, an AIIMS director could not hold dual charge - however, the present director was flouting norms by holding the post of AIIMS director as well chief of the AIIMS Trauma Centre.

"The director is himself involved in various corruption cases, with two cases pending against him in the lower courts," a senior official within AIIMS told Catch.

"There has been no explanation given for debunking the Parliamentary committee report. The director seems to be indifferent to the issue of corruption in his own institution," said another source.

Repeated calls to director Misra's residence and office landlines elicited no response. Catch will update this story as and when it receives a response from the director.

Edited by Shreyas Sharma

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First published: 3 August 2016, 17:41 IST
 
Vishakh Unnikrishnan @sparksofvishdom

A graduate of the Asian College of Journalism, Vishakh tracks stories on public policy, environment and culture. Previously at Mint, he enjoys bringing in a touch of humour to the darkest of times and hardest of stories. One word self-description: Quipster

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