M A I N   N E W S

PGI Director’s appointment challenged; CAT admits plea 
Aditi Tandon/TNS

New Delhi, October 8
The Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) has admitted an application challenging the appointment of Dr YK Chawla as the Director of PGI- Chandigarh and said that his appointment would be subject to the final outcome of the petition.

Dr Digambar Behera, one of the five candidates shortlisted for the PGI Director’s post, moved the CAT yesterday seeking to quash Dr Chawla’s selection by the Health Ministry’s Special Selection Committee. The Principal Bench of the Tribunal has issued notices for October 10 to Secretaries, Union Health Ministry and Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) and to the Special Selection Committee.

Issuing this notice of interim relief in favour of Dr Behera, the Bench ordered the respondents: “You are directed to appear before this bench on October 10. If you fail to appear, the application will be heard and disposed of in your absence without any further notice.”

The Bench took a serious view of the petition that challenges the constitution of the Special Selection Committee as illegal and claims several irregularities in the selection process. “If any appointment is made, the appointment order shall indicate clearly that the said appointment is subject to the outcome of the present original application,” the Bench said in its order to the Health Ministry and DoPT.

The CAT order, in possession of The Tribune, records in detail the “important” grounds Dr Behera mentions. The most important ground of challenge pertains to the constitution of the Selection Committee which, states the petition, had at least two members lower in rank than the PGI Director who they were meant to select.

This is against DOPT rules which mandate: “Where officers of government, autonomous bodies, etc are nominated as members of selection panels, they should be at least one level above the post to which recruitment is being made.”

In the present case, selection panel member Dr Rajan Badwe had the scale of Rs 67,000- Rs 79,000 as against the scale of the PGI Director, which is Rs 80,000. Yet another member had a lower scale while a third member -- Secretary, Health Research VM Katoch -- had the same scale as that of the PGI Director, the petition adds.

Another objection is to the selection panel constituting a sub committee to select the Director without the approval of either the PGI Institute Body or the DoPT. The DoPT had only approved the full selection panel and not the sub-group this full eight-member panel constituted on April 9 on its own.

“Constitution of the sub-committee is against rules. This sub-group held interviews on the basis of which final selections happened. The Committee actually approved for the selection conducted no interviews. The selection process was hence vitiated to favour some,” Dr Behera contended.

Importantly, this is the first time in the history of PGI Chandigarh and AIIMS that an interview was conducted to select the Director and all 24 applicants were invited without prior screening. Even candidates whose vigilance clearances had not been obtained were called.

The objections

n The Selection Committee had two members lower in rank than the PGI Director they were meant to select. This is against DoPT rules

n The selection panel constituted a sub committee to select the Director without the approval of either the PGI Institute Body or the DoPT





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