SCTIMST gets new Director in Charge, Dr Asha Kishore moves High Court
Thiruvananthapuram: Ending the row over the post of the director, Sree Chitra Thirunal Institute of Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST) has appointed its director-in-charge and quashed the tenure extension given to Dr. Asha for another five years.
According to the order from the Administrative Officer of the Institute, Professor K Jayakumar has assumed as the director-in-charge, the appointment is effective until further orders or till the post is filled through formal selection process, whichever is earlier. He is said to retire in the month of May.
Located in Thiruvananthapuram, the Institute is a central government institution with autonomous power. This year a political storm at the Institute was generated in regard with the post of director-in-charge when the former director Dr. Asha Kishore was met with opposition from a group of doctors of the Institute.
Her tenure extension was approved and she was supposed to continue her charge till February 2025, resuming from July 17. The decision was published on June 2 and approved by Dr. VK Saraswat, the President of SCTIMST, following a meeting of the Institute Body.
However, this decision was opposed by the group, allegedly backed by the RSS and BJP, who approached the Central Administrative Tribunal ( CAT) questioning the extension of her tenure.
Currently, the interim director Jayakumar, who is a senior professor at the Cardiovascular Thoracic Surgery Department at the Institute, will continue his charge over the contended position. He has been associated with the Institute since 2001 through lateral entry and had contested for the post earlier in 2009 and 2015. He is also the Sree Chitra Governing body member, reports TOI.
However, the infighting over the director post of the institute has reached the High Court once again. Dr Asha Kishore has now approached the High Court against the CAT order, adds TOI
On August 5, CAT had stayed the extension order who alleged that the tenure was extended without the permission of the central government. The Kerala High Court set the order aside on August 13. According to the Tribunal, they were acting in view of the fact that the matter required consideration on merits.
Following this, Dr Asha had taken charge as Director until she was met with further resistance.
Reportedly, a faculty member moved the Ernakulam Bench of CAT challenging the extension of Dr. Kishore's tenure. According to the petition, the authority competent to approve the extension is the Apex Council proving that Dr. Kishore's extension doesn't follow the legal guidelines.
CAT, then, once again revoked the extension. In contrast to this, the HC had observed, earlier in August, that as an autonomous institution with the authority to extend such tenures, the appointment is provided legally under Rule7 (11) of the SCTIMST, Trivandrum Rules and Regulations, 1984. The Court had also asked CAT to consider the case before it again before September 23 after the hearing on the petition filed by Dr. Kishore.
As a result, the CAT set the case aside on Friday but Dr. Kishore moved the High Court providing confirmation of the latest CAT order on her tenure extension on Monday. She challenged the latest order by CAT, a statutory body that deals with disputes over recruitment, stating that her original appointment did not require the permission of central government's Appointment Committee of Cabinet and so no approval is necessary from the Committee.
It is speculated that this course of events have been a result of political intervention from external members as earlier in June, Dr. Asha wrote to Union Minister Harsh Vardhan that she was being targeted and subjected to mudslinging by external people.
However, the latest order by CAT, on November 6, has not considered the observations made by the HC and set aside its own previous order. According to the Tribunal, the central government or the department of science and technology has powers to issue necessary directions to the institute and the president of the governing body is bound to follow, as per the established act.
Medical Dialogues had earlier reported Kerala HC's decision as it vacated the tribunal order to stay the extension, which was also challenged by the then director, Dr. Kishore.