Controversy: Doctor booked under harassment case appointed to AIIMS Madurai Board
Madhurai: Controversy erupted after the recent appointment of a doctor as one of the board members of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Madurai, who was booked for allegedly "harassing" a woman by throwing garbage and urinating at her doorstep.
The storm kicked following the release of Gazette notification dated October 15. As per the notification, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare announced Dr VM Katoch, President, JIPMER, Puducherry will be the president of AIIMS, Madurai, slated to come up at Thoppur in that district.
Other members include Dr Sudha Seshayyan, Vice-Chancellor of the Tamil Nadu Dr MGR Medical University, Director General of Health Services (ex-officio), Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India or his/her nominee and Chief Secretary, Government of Tamil Nadu or his/her nominee.
Dr Pankaja Raghav from AIIMS Jodhpur, Dr V Vanajakshamma, Professor Sri Venkateswara Institute of Medical Sciences, Tirupati, Dr Prashant Lavania of Sarojini Naidu Medical College, Agra, and Dr Subbiah, Professor and Head, Department of Surgical Oncology, Government Kilpauk Medical College and Government Royapettah Hospital, Chennai are the other members.
However, it was the naming of ABVP national president Dr Shanmugam Subbiah, Professor and Head, Department of Surgical Oncology, Government Kilpauk Medical College (GKMC) as one of the four medical faculties from Indian universities that drew sharp flak.
The medical practitioner was in soup earlier this year as he was booked by Chennai police in July on charges of urinating at the doorstep of the apartment of a 62-year-old woman neighbour following a dispute over car parking. In CCTV footage, released by the aggrieved neighbour, a person purported to be Dr Subbiah could be spotted urinating at the entrance door of the woman's apartment. He, however, denied the allegations and the complaint was later withdrawn.
As per a recent PTI report, the opposition slammed the decision of including the doctor to the board. It also questioned as to why not a single MP was appointed to the board of AIIMS, Madurai, even as a Congress MP wrote to the Centre seeking revocation of Dr Shanmugam Subbiah's appointment from Tamil Nadu.
Dr Subbiah's appointment came under fire from opposition parties in Tamil Nadu and Several others including MPs and activists, who took to Twitter to object the decision. An activist tweeted;
MDMK founder Vaiko and Madurai CPM MP Su Venkatesan also slammed Subbiah's appointment and wanted it to be revoked. DMK president MK Stalin stated that Subbiah was a member of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the BJP's student wing.
"This appointment shows the BJP is not worried about women's dignity," he mentioned, adding, the Centre had 'insulted' Dr Seshayyan by appointing her also as a member in the board. Stalin urged Seshayyan to quit from the council.
"I urge Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan to immediately remove Dr Shanmugam Subbiah" from AIIMS, Madurai, he stated. Also, with three positions under the MPs column left 'Vacant,' he said MPs from the state, especially from south Tamil Nadu, must be included in the board to "show respect to people's representatives in democracy."
He urged Chief Minister K Palaniswami to write to the Centre on both issues. In her communication to Harsh Vardhan, Karur Congress MP S Jothimani alleged Subbiah was caught on camera urinating outside the woman's house, a charge denied by the doctor earlier.
"I strongly urge you to withdraw his nomination to this prestigious post and send a strong message to the women of the country," that those harassing them will not be tolerated, she mentioned in the letter.
Meanwhile, the doctor told EdexLive, that he is being targetted politically. He stated that the appointment was made solely on the basis of his academic achievements and not political allegiance.
"I'm already part of the executive committee of AIIMS Hyderabad. I'm conducting its online interviews now. I'm also the EC member of Pondicherry University and the Central University of Tamil Nadu. These appointments are made exclusively on the basis of my academic credentials," says Subbiah. "I've been a professor of medicine for the past 10 years and an HOD for the past five years. I have 83 publications in national and international journals. During this COVID time, I never stopped operating on cancer patients. My services have been acknowledged globally," he told the daily.
"Academic qualifications are what they look at. Probably they look at favourable ideology too," he says. At the same time, he says that he finds it quite difficult to manage his time, given all his duties. "I am conducting the AIIMS Hyderabad interviews online now. These academic activities are quite time-consuming and are done without any remuneration. I am doing it because of my academic interest," Dr Subbiah added.
Commenting on the disagreement with his neighbour, Subbiah stated, "I have bought three car parking slots from the builder. Why should I fight with my neighbour for car parking?" He added that the issue had been amicably solved.