AIIMS law was fixed on Venugopal: Supreme Court

There was only one AIIMS, only one Director at the time of its commencement
A person in public employment has protection against arbitrary treatment
Petitioner has been treated differently from other members of Governing Body
New Delhi: There is force in the contention that the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences and Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (Amendment) Act fixing the superannuation age at 65 was intended to remove prematurely AIIMS Director P. Venugopal, the Supreme Court has held.
A Bench consisting of Justices Tarun Chatterjee and H.S. Bedi, while striking down the Act as unconstitutional on Thursday, said: “A person entering into government service is no doubt liable to be dealt with by the relevant Act or the Rules but it ceases to be so in the event of his success in challenging the constitutional validity of the same.”
Writing the judgment, Justice Chatterjee said: “A government servant entering into service does not forgo his fundamental rights. On the other hand, because of his status as a person in public employment, he acquires additional rights [which are] constitutionally protected. The state or other public authorities are not, therefore, entitled to make and impose laws governing the service conditions of an employee which manifestly deprive him of the privileges of that status.”
The Bench said: “A person in public employment is endowed with a status not merely subjecting him to liabilities and obligation but also protecting him against any arbitrary, unreasonable and unequal treatment. Such a person is also entitled to constitutional remedies whether under Article 32 or under Article 226.”
In the instant case, “it was submitted that the impugned proviso was manifestly designed to apply and was in fact applied only against the writ petitioner [Dr. Venugopal] and was not intended to and could not apply even, in principle or otherwise, to anybody else because there was only one AIIMS in the country, there was only one Director of the AIIMS on the date of commencement of the Amending Act, and there could be none else who could conceivably be affected by its operation.”
Singled out
The Bench said: “It is impossible to ignore the force in the submission of Arun Jaitley, senior counsel for the writ petitioner, that a person is being singled out for premature termination without any question of his being justifiably treated as a member of a separate and distinct class on any rational basis.
“It was contended by Mr. Jaitley that in reality there is no legislation in respect of any class but there is legislation in respect of an individual. The writ petitioner is being singled out and treated differently from other members of the Governing Body [of the AIIMS]. The petitioner as Director is to act as a member of the Governing Body for five years, which expires on July 2, 2008 on the basis of his initial appointment and, therefore, it is not in dispute that it was a tenure appointment.”
The Bench said, “The writ petitioner shall serve the nation for some more period, up to 2nd of July 2008. We direct the AIIMS authorities to restore him in his office as Director till his period comes to an end.”
He was also entitled to his pay and other emoluments he was getting, from the date of the order of termination.
J. Venkatesan


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