The Delhi High Court on Wednesday issued a notice to Union Health Minister J P Nadda, the CBI and others on a PIL alleging interference in the working of the “vigilance administration” at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
The court of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice R S Endlaw has asked for responses from the Health Minister, the Chief Vigilance Officer of the Health Ministry, the CVC, the CBI, AIIMS and former CVO of AIIMS Sanjiv Chaturvedi on the plea filed by an NGO, Centre For Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), which has claimed that the “entire bureaucracy” of the Health Ministry has been “forced to take a U-turn” on the issue of investigation into alleged corruption at AIIMS.
Chaturvedi was removed from the post of CVO last year by the then health minister Harsh Vardhan after the vigilance administration initiated inquiries.
During the brief hearing on Wednesday, advocate Prashant Bhushan informed the court that Nadda had been “instrumental” in ousting Chaturvedi, and had written numerous letters to the Health ministry at that time.
The plea notes that 17 cases relating to various irregularities in appointments and alleged graft are currently under investigation by the CVC and the Vigilance department of AIIMS, while the CBI is probing nine cases relating to corruption. Seven cases are pending with the Vigilance department exclusively.
“The entire bureaucracy of the Health Ministry was forced to take a complete U-turn in accepting his demands of dismantling the newly set up Vigilance administration, on 14.08.2014, after the new regime took over on May 26, 2014, though his same demands were categorically rejected by the same Health Secretary Luv Verma on 23.05.2014,” alleges the PIL.
According to the CPIL plea, the vigilance inquiries were on cases “relating to various malpractices, including supply of dubious medicines by a private chemist shop; middlemen forging out-patient department (OPD) cards; irregularities and wastage in purchase of surgery equipment and other medical items; use of fake propriety certificates in purchases; irregularities in recruitments/appointments; irregularities in computerisation/engineering works; irregularities and breach of confidentiality in the exam process; unauthorised foreign visits of senior faculty members; and accepting hospitality of private medical colleges by senior faculty members in violation of MCI regulations.”
The plea has sought directions to Nadda to recuse himself from any proceedings arising out of cases in which he had written to the Health Ministry to stop investigation. Further, the plea also sought orders to expedite the probe being carried out by the CBI, the CVC and the Vigilance department. The plea also sought directions to the CBI to “initiate investigation into missing files and efforts to halt proceedings in the inquiry of all corruption related cases, as demanded by the Standing Parliamentary Committee.”