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AIIMS defies Minister, certificates issued without his signature
AIIMS distributed degree certificates without the Health Ministers’s sign, hours after resident doctors called off their strike. This directly challenges Anbumani Ramadoss who has been trying to take an active part in the functioning of AIIMS.

AIIMS administration has begun distributing degree certificates without the Union Health Minister’s sign hours after AIIMS Resident Doctors Association (RDA) ended their strike demanding immediate issuance of degrees. "The administration has prepared certificates of 49 passouts who need the documents urgently and started distributing it. It bears the signatures of the institute director and the dean," said RDA General Secretary Anil Sharma.


The recent news from AIIMS came hours after the AIIMS RDA said at their Press Conference that they had decided to call off the strike after the Delhi High Court took suo moto cognizance of the situation and after the students had extensive discussions with legal experts and were confirmed that the Minister’s signature was not required to validate their Degree certificate.


The AIIMS doctors strongly condemned the Health Minister’s "behaviour" which led to the standoff and made them resort to this action. “Unfortunately in this country nothing is done without pressure," said the doctors at the press conference. Dr Harsh, the RDA president said they would attend the convocation ceremony on September 25, but would boycott the function if Ramadoss hands over the degrees. He said, “No one should have the ego that exceeds the law. The minister himself created this problem that led to immense loss to the patients and the doctors. Had he done a simple signature everything would have been normal. But, instead of this he thought it better to play with lives of thousands of people.”


The Delhi High Court expressed concern over the ongoing strike and asked the Centre to take immediate action to resolve the crisis. "We are conscious and we must be concerned on the issue. The government must act to sort out the problem because patients are facing problems," a Bench comprising Chief Justice MK Sharma and Justice Sanjeev Khanna said. "If you (Centre) do it today then its OK but if you fail to resolve the crisis then we have to take action," the Bench said adding that the government cannot deny certificates to doctors. The court’s observations came when advocate Aggarwal informed the court that patients are suffering because of the ongoing strike at AIIMS.


The AIIMS Staff Council, which met in the morning, told the agitating doctors that the dean and director can sign on the degree and they would receive it without delay. "A resolution was passed in the Staff Council in which it was decided that the dean and the director can sign on the degree and it has been legally verified. Earlier in the day, Ramadoss, also AIIMS president, said certificates without his signature do not hold "validity". It is a valid degree and we are very much happy with this decision," Resident Doctors Association President Kumar Harsh said. The staff council meeting was chaired by AIIMS Director P Venugopal.


Meanwhile, Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss, who was to leave for Bhutan this morning to attend a WHO meeting, had to cancel his trip due to the crisis. He told Lok Sabha today:  "The degrees shall bear the signature of President, Director, Dean and the Registrar of AIIMS. I have returned the degrees to the Director, AIIMS for rectifying the mistake at the earliest so that the degrees to the students who require such degree urgently can be issued immediately." He said the degrees forwarded to him by the institute bore the signature of one Sandeep Aggarwal who is not the Registrar, AIIMS, appointed by the governing body.” The minister has been supporting V P Gupta as the Registrar, saying that he was appointed by the competent authority as Registrar of the institute in 2002 and he has been functioning in that post since then. He said that as per the procedure followed, every year convocation of AIIMS is required to be held sometime in the month of February. “Those doctors who are in a hurry to go abroad can come to me and their degrees will be signed within 1-2 days. While the rest of the degrees will be handed over by next month,” Ramadoss said. Earlier the Opposition did not allow him to make the statement, accusing him of being responsible for the strike.


Ramadoss had earlier warned the residents doctors of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) of ’serious action’, if they continue the strike.  "Doctors will be suspended if even a single patient is affected by this strike," said the minister.

With the September 1 deadline for submitting original certificates at foreign universities fast approaching, students claimed that any delay in signing of the certificates by the minister would "jeopardise" their future. The doctors who have cleared MBBS, MD, DM and MCh courses have not received their degrees for the past three years. Since Tuesday evening, resident doctors were protesting because they had not received their degrees.


The strike had affected services at the out patients department (OPD) of the premier hospital, which is visited by around 6,000 people every day. AIIMS is India’s top government hospital and medical college that treats over 8,000 patients every day. Scores of patients were seen waiting in front of non-functioning OPDs, while those who had come from far-flung areas were seen waiting outside the hospital. The doctors had then said that the functioning of the emergency services and ICU would not be affected.


Despite repeated efforts no reaction from the minister or his office could be obtained and his aides were non-committal on this issue.


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