SCTIMST Director Dr Asha Kishore takes voluntary retirement from service
Thiruvananthapuram: Giving a rest to the ongoing feud, the former director of Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute of Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST), Dr. Asha Kishore, recently quit service after a long legal battle over an extension for the post of director granted to her by the institute.
Filing an application for voluntary retirement, Dr. Kishore stated that continuing would be detrimental to her health. The application for voluntary retirement, addressed to Dr. VK Saraswat, President of the institute sought to leave from December 9. As per various media accounts, the president of SCTIMST approved the application.
Dr. Kishore, a senior professor in the Department of Neurology of the institute allegedly took the decision based on the series of events that had been happening in the last couple of months. Reportedly, a group of people with political backing allegedly tried to remove Dr. Kishore from her post due to their own interest.
Calling the incident a huge loss, Congress Leader Shashi Tharoor wrote on his Twitter handle on December 13, "What a loss for SCTIMST as petty politics triumphs over merit & a first-class scientist &leader is pushed aside. They will savour their victory but the Institute &India will lose. All that remains is for the new building to be named for Savarkar, since Golwalkar is already taken."
Dr. Asha Kishore served as the director at SCMIST for five years from 2015 to 2020. Thereafter, in May 2020, she got an extension by the Institute Body, reports The News Minute. This move was not taken well by many and challenges started coming for Dr. Kishore. Rajiv Kumar Tayal, a Deputy Secretary rank officer of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), was the first to challenge the decision. Demanding withdrawal of the extension by SCMIMST, he argued that the authority for approval of extension in tenure of Chief Executives of autonomous institutions lies with the Appointment Cabinet Committee (ACC).
The News Minute adds that the Central Administrative Tribunal stayed the extension on August 5 on a petition moved by a faculty of the Institute, Dr Sajith Sukumaran. He also moved the Ernakulam Bench of CAT, challenging the extension.
CAT quashed the decision regarding the extension of the former director saying that the approval of the Central government was absent in it. Dr. Kishore moved the High Court challenging the order by CAT. Her point of argument was that permission of the Central government was absent in her original appointment as well, adds The Hindu.
On December 9, the High Court said that the question was whether ACC's approval was necessary for the extension of the tenure of Dr. Kishore. Accordingly to The News Minute, HC also observed,
"When the Central government based in its dated on 2006 June clarifies the position, we have to proceed on the basis that the dispute stands resolved by the direction issued by the Central government. Going by the statutory provisions, it might be true that the institute has the power to extend the tenure of a Director, but such extension should be with prior approval of ACC. Since ACC approval has not been obtained in the matter, there is justification on the part of the Tribunal in rejecting the plea of Dr Asha Kishore and therefore necessarily a fresh selection has to be conducted in the matter for appointing any person to the post of Director."
Based on the decision made by HC, Dr. K Jayakumar, senior professor and head of the Department of Cardiovascular Thoracic Surgery at SCMIMST, has been appointed as the new director of the institute.
After the HC's dismissal regarding the tenure, Dr. Kishore applied for VRS and sought to quit the institute on the same date. Her application, as reported by The News Minute, stated, "The decision of the Institute Body to extend my term was based on the provisions of the growth of the Institute and performance and my contributions to the growth of the Institute and performance as director in the preceding five years. The extra ordinary events of the last few months and the stress of working under such situations has made me realise that it would be detrimental to my health and I would not be fully productive if I continued in the Institute. Under these circumstances my continuation in service in the Institute is extremely difficult and detrimental proceedings /judicial/ proceedings is pending against me".
Calling the fight a historic one Chandrasekhar Balagopal, Founder and Trustee at Anaha Trust wrote on his Facebook post, "After waging a historic fight against opponents backed by a powerful political party and other narrow vested interests Dr Asha Kishore leaves the battlefield unbowed and undefeated. It's India's science and technology endeavor as a whole and the autonomy of an Institution of National importance created by an Act of Parliament that have suffered another grievous setback".