NEIGRIHMS recruitment rules challenged
By Our Reporter
SHILLONG: Flaws in the recruitment rules of North East Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical Science (NEIGRIHMS) have taken a murky turn with two doctors of the institute taking the matter to the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT).
In its judgment of June 29, 2010, the CAT, Gauhati Bench quashed the NEIGRIHMS advertisement dated September 20, 2008 by which applications were invited on the basis of qualifications prescribed by erstwhile recruitment rules towards filling up various faculty posts in the Institute.
The NEIGRIHMS Governing Council, the highest policy making body headed by its Chairman, the Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, in its meeting of September 22, 2008 proposed amendment of recruitment rules in line with those of AIIMS, New Delhi and PGIMER, Chandigarh as NEIGRIHMS has now been designated as the Post Graduate Medical Institution in the lineage of the other two central medical institutes.
NEIGRIHMS received the approved minutes of the 10th Governing Council meeting of September 22, 2008 in November 2008. Further the Ministry in a letter dated September 27, 2008 asked the Institute to send proposals for amending the recruitment rules to bring them at par with AIIMS and PGIMER.
The petitioners before CAT stated that the existing recruitment rules of NEIGRIHMS had failed to attract qualified and competent candidates for various faculty posts. Some faculty members have made repeated representations to the Director of the Institute on the infirmities in the old rules which adversely affected career advancement prospects in NEIGRIHMS. On the basis of such representation the Director discussed the matter with faculty members and prominent academicians.
Those in favour of jettisoning the old rules cite several anomalies at the entry level of certain faculty posts. They feel the rules are tailored to suit candidates from private institutes instead of eminent government institutes even while hampering the promotional prospects of faculty, sources said.
On June 27, 2007 a decision was taken to start MBBS course in the institute necessitating immediate recruitment of faculty members. But pending the finalization
of recruitment rules no recruitment of faculty could be undertaken. The Director, as such, made a request to the Joint Secretary for amendment of the existing recruitment rules.
The Governing Council took up this matter on September 22, 2008 and approved the amendment of the recruitment rules of faculty posts in NEIGRIHMS to bring it at par with AIIMS and PGIMER.
There was lukewarm response to the advertisement of September 20, 2008. Why the advertisement was put up considering that Governing Council was meeting two days later to propose amendments to the rules shows malafide intent on the part of NEIGRHIMS, more so since the matter was listed in the agenda of the GC meeting schedule two days later. This has given rise to speculations that some vested interests in the Institute are indulging in favouritism.
Doctors further allege that the Institute has grossly erred in inviting application under the old recruitment rules despite the approval of the new rules on September 22, 2008 by the Governing Council. They have communicated their displeasure to the Secretary, Health & Family Welfare, asking that appointments made vide advertisement dated September 20, 2008 should be revisited. Similar representations were made to the Director who issued orders for modification of the Recruitment rules on November 05, 2008.
Doctors allege that the impugned advertisement is malicious and discriminatory and gives undue weightage to services rendered in private institutes whereas services rendered in premier institutes of the country such as AIIMS, PGIMER are not given due weightage.
Presenting its case before CAT the Institute said the GC meeting of September 22, 2008 was communicated to the Ministry. Thereafter the Ministry directed NEIGRIHMS to send fresh proposals for amendment of the recruitment rules. NEIGRIHMS contention is that it is incorrect to say that the amended recruitment rules have come into existence on September 22, 2008 pending its approval by the Union Health Ministry.
The controversy revolves around whether the GC resolutions have to be approved by the Health Ministry. It is also alleged that NEIGRIHMS has misused Rule 8 of Recruitment rules 2003, relaxing the academic qualification and experience of candidates and less qualified people were selected on ad-hoc basis, thereby diluting the very principle of merit.
On this issue NEIGRIHMS’s contention is that new recruitment rules were not yet implemented. But the Institute did not give plausible reasons for the delay in implementing the amended recruitment rules. NEIGHRIHMS blamed the Union Health Ministry for the delay but it did not show whether the Institute actively pursued the matter. CAT, cited lack of transparency in the functioning of the institute and quashed the recruitment made via advertisement dated September 20, 2008.
It may be reminded that NEIGRIHMS, issued seven advertisements costing Rs 1.30 crore for filling up 160 posts but was able to recruit only 35 candidates. This clearly indicates the flaws in the old recruitment rules.
A senior surgeon of the Institute said the Director is not averse to amending the recruitment rules but some faculty members want the old rules to continue as they can become professors within a shorter time.
On asking how NEIGRIHMS adopted the old recruitment rules a senior faculty member said when the NEIGRIHMS Constitution was framed it was certified by the authority in the greater interest of the institute. “Other guidelines in the Constitution are fine but the recruitment rules are flawed because qualification at the entry level is not at par with any national level institutes,” the surgeon informed.
On ad-hoc appointments, the CAT has directed that candidates who were rejected on the ground of experiences could be accommodated but no ad-hoc appointments can be made in case of unqualified candidates. The teaching staff feel that the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare letter dated November 5, 2008 should have been speedily considered to regularize the recruitment rules, since other institutes are functioning similarly.
Interestingly, a cardiologist refuted claims about the Governing Council meeting which had proposed the amendment of recruitment rule. “There are no old recruitment rules except the existing rules which are mandated by the Medical Council of India. In any case no recruitment rules will find favour with all faculty members. There will always be grievances,” the cardiologist stated. He has also stressed the fact that since these Institutes are created by an act of Parliament their rules and policies have to be ratified by the Health Ministry.
On the present brouhaha about the recruitment flaws, the Cardiologist said that since the recruitment rules of AIIMS and PGIMER offer scope for accumulated experiences, it helps the upward mobility of the faculty. He said despite several advertisements, PGIMER, Chandigarh could not even fill up its vacancies because now private medical colleges are offering lucrative salaries. He said NEIGRIHMS is a new institute and is located in a remote part of the country which is the reason why there are no takers for faculty positions.
The Director, NEIGRIHMS could not be contacted as he is out of station. His deputy remained unavailable despite several attempts to contact him.
Source: The Shillong Times