Sunday, April 8, 2012

Directors turn dictators in Health

 With the junior Deputy Medical Superintendents and Assistant Directors functioning as Heads in different departments in Health sector in the last three years, officials enjoying patronage of political high ups have shown regard neither for the people nor for the law. While as Director of Health Services Kashmir (DHK),Dr Saleem-ur-Rehman, has shown the temerity of not relieving 24 doctors despite clear-cut orders from J&K High Court, Director of Health Services Jammu (DHJ) Dr Madhu Khullar has been audacious enough to suspend a petitioner doctor immediately after her attendance in a writ petition in Jammu wing of J&K High Court. Posted as an assistant surgeon at Sub District Hospital Nowshera, Dr Syed Majid Malik of Darhal was among scores of doctors who wanted to apply for the deputation tenure of Registrar at Government Medical College (GMC) Jammu earlier this year. All the in-service candidates were supposed to submit their applications to Chairman of Selection Committee of Registrars and Demonstrators (Principal GMC) through proper channel. Much like in Kashmir, where Director Health has relieved only blue-eyed boys and has not permitted the selected candidates to join at SKIMS as Senior Residents and Registrars, DHJ has made it a point to prevent the assistant surgeons from going to GMC Jammu as Registrars and Demonstrators. 

As reported in detail in yesterday issue of this newspaper, DHK Dr Saleem-ur-Rehman has not relieved the selected candidates, 24 in number, despite clear-cut orders from the bench of Mr Justice Hasnain Masoodi. Across the Pir Panjal, his counterpart has stopped the candidates from going to GMC. Even as a number of the candidates have been harassed by different means and advised against applying for the posts, Dr Majid submitted his application through proper channel. After clearance at the levels of Superintendent/ Chief Medical Officer and necessary recommendations from DHJ, Commissioner-Secretary Health and Medical Education would normally forward the aspirants' application to Principal GMC.

As DHJ and her subordinate officials refused to forward Dr Malik's application, he filed a writ petition in J&K High Court, seeking orders in favour of his application's onward passage to Principal GMC. After hearing, Mr Justice JP Singh passed interim orders, asking DHJ to forward the petitioner's application to Chairman of Selection Committee at GMC. Under rules, Medical Education Department draws Registrars on deputation from Health Department. A tenure of deputation makes the incumbents eligible for becoming Lecturers or Assistant Professors at GMC Jammu, GMC Srinagar, others medical colleges besides SKIMS Soura. 

Despite Mr Justice JP Singh's orders, DHJ communicated to the petitioner that she would not forward his application in any circumstances to Principal GMC. Pushed to the wall, the petitioner doctors filed a contempt application in the court against the respondents. Court took a serious notice of DHJ's contemptuous behaviour and ordered her personal presence on March 16th. As directed, DHJ appeared in person. Petitioner Dr Majid Malik was also present in the court.

However, immediately after reaching back to her officer, Dr Madhu Khullar ordered suspension of Dr Majid Malik for his "unauthorized absence" from his office. According to insiders, BMO Nowshera and CMO Rajouri, under advice from the top, reported that Dr Majid Malik was "absent" and his "absence" had accentuated the law and order situation in then communally surcharged area. Dr Majid Malik is now pursuing his case, as well as the contempt application, more strenuously but DHJ's harsh action against the petitioner has come as a shock to hundreds of medical professionals. "We had never imagined that Director would suspend a petitioner doctor whose charges of contempt she was facing in High Court", observed a senior physician. 

Heads of Departments in Health sector have not only risen to the top positions despite being Assistant Directors and equivalent. They have been also audaciously showering undue favours to junior subordinate officials without regard for rules or norms. Quite a number of this lot have been posted on prize positions. The beneficiaries include a prominent mainstream politician's son-in-law, who has been favoured in the thick of this year's Budget session of Legislature, as also a senior separatist leader's wife, who has been posted as Block Medical Officer of Kreeri, Baramulla, with open contempt to seniority. DHK and the favoured woman have been classmates in addition to hailing from the same locality in Doda district.

Phenomenal favouritism, nepotism and corruption in different wings of Health Department, coupled by an infamous rift between two Ministers, has led to anarchical situation in the last three years. Those suffering from heartburn and victimhood are approaching courts and litigation has reached an all-time high. Encouraged by Dr Majid Malik's resistance, scores of doctors, being deprived from taking deputation tenures in Medical Education sector, have also filed writ petitions in J&K High Court. 

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