COURSTEY THE TRIBUNE MARCH 18
Dr Jagat Ram appointed PGI Director
PM-led Cabinet committee reverses search panel’s order of merit
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, March 17
The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi today appointed Dr Jagat Ram, the senior-most professor of PGI Chandigarh, as the institute’s new Director.
Dr Ram will serve for five years from the date of assuming charge or until he attains 65 years of age, whichever is earlier.
Jagat Ram, 61, heads PGI’s Ophthalmology Department and is an internationally acclaimed expert with 24 awards to his credit, 11 of these global.
With Dr Ram’s appointment, the ACC has allayed serious concerns of impropriety that marked the selection process of the new PGI Director.
The process began on October 6 with the Health Ministry constituting a search and selection committee under Health Secretary CK Mishra to find the Director and invite applications.
Concerns stemmed from the committee placing Dr Ram at the bottom of the shortlist of three finalists drawn up after interviewing 26 candidates on October 20, 2016. It was ratified by the PGI Institute Body on November 3 and referred to the ACC for final appointment.
But it raised a storm with The Tribune on December 5 publishing a report on the process of selection and the questions it raised.
It highlighted how Dr Anil Bhansali, Head of Department, Endocrinology, PGI, was placed as the top finalist despite being 27th on PGI’s seniority list. Dr Meenu Singh was placed second while being 57th in institutional seniority, while Dr Ram was placed last despite being the senior-most of PGI’s 110 professors.
The Tribune also exposed how Dr Meenu Singh was a finalist without even qualifying for the job whose recruitment rules mandate a candidate to have administrative experience as head of department. Singh was only heading PGI’s telemedicine centre and was not HoD.
Even on merit, the list raised doubts as Dr Ram was the last despite the highest research gate score of 54.10 followed by Dr Bhansali’s 40.61.
The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) on December 15 took cognisance of The Tribune investigation and directed the Health Ministry to review the final list comprising three candidates.
The commission even questioned the ministry why it compromised the seniority of Dr Ram and whether the intention was to isolate the sole SC candidate — Dr Jagat Ram — among finalists. “It appears the candidates were selected first and interviews held later to suit the selection,” the Commission had noted.
Moreover, Dr Bhansali had become PGI professor only in 2005 much after Dr Ram, who became a professor in 2001. Dr Meenu Singh was elevated as Professor in 2008. Besides, the search committee had while placing Bhansali on the top ignored the fact that he faced a vigilance advisory note in 2006 though the case was closed later. Also, he was among authors of a 2013 research paper that attracted allegations of unethical practices