Ex-PGI director alleges “mala fide attempts” by Dr Vivek Lal to thwart his appointment as dean - Hindustan Times
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Ex-PGI director alleges “mala fide attempts” by Dr Vivek Lal to thwart his appointment as dean

By, Chandigarh
Jul 26, 2023 01:40 AM IST

Former officiating director of the institute and well-known paediatrician, Surjit Singh, has accused Lal of making “malafide attempts” to keep him away from the post of dean academic, stating that he had refused to accede to Lal’s “illegal demands” made in respect of the latter’s son, an MD student at the institute.

One year into the job, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) director Dr Vivek Lal has run into a controversy over appointment of dean academic, a critical post in decision-making structure of the institution.

Former officiating director of the institute and well-known paediatrician Surjit Singh. (HT File)
Former officiating director of the institute and well-known paediatrician Surjit Singh. (HT File)

Former officiating director of the institute and well-known paediatrician, Surjit Singh, has accused Lal of making “malafide attempts” to keep him away from the post of dean academic, stating that he had refused to accede to Lal’s “illegal demands” made in respect of the latter’s son, an MD student at the institute.

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In a confidential letter to Union health minister, Dr Mansukh L Mandaviya, Singh has alleged “the enmity is manifesting in many ways and Lal has been harassing and humiliating him at every step and creating difficulties in his day-to-day work”. HT has seen the content of the two-page letter that was also marked to Lal.

Singh served as officiating director between November 2021 and May 2022 when Lal took over from him. On April 24, PGIMER appointed Dr NK Panda as officiating dean academic, a post always held by the senior-most faculty member. Regular appointment of dean academic is yet to be made. If appointed, Surjit Singh would have served on the post till August 2025.

Singh’s letter also alleges “mala fide attempts” at changing the inter-se seniority of senior faculty member by Lal and sought the Union health minister’s intervention for consideration of his appointment.

As per the list annexed with the letter, Singh is the senior-most faculty at the PGIMER. The letter also has an office order issued by Lal in June 2022, in which representations of NK Panda and other faculty members were disposed of by him and Surjit Singh was declared the senior-most faculty member.

Singh was to take over from Professor Rakesh Sehgal with effect from April 1, 2023. However, on April 24, Panda was announced as officiating dean academic, ignoring Singh’s claim of seniority.

There is nothing in public domain as to what prompted the institute to depart from the past practice. Dean academic has always been the senior-most faculty at the institute, it is learnt.

Singh claims in his letter that the files pertaining to appointment should have been put up for ministry’s consideration in advance as the appointment takes place immediately after retirement of the incumbent.

“I had refused to accede to his (Lal’s) illegal demand for re-evaluation of the theory papers of MD Pathology exit examination of his son in December 2021 when I was the officiating director. … (Lal’s son) had failed in the said examination,” Singh says in the letter, emphasising that he was being targeted for this reason.

The letter also accuses Dr Lal of “hurriedly” setting up another committee on the issue of seniority “to try and show” that Panda is senior to Singh even as Lal himself had settled the seniority issue in June 2022 office order to faculty.

“This is clearly a mala fide attempt at denying me the post of dean academic,” the letter says requesting the Union health minister to consider him for the appointment in view his seniority and 39 years of service at the institute. Singh is learnt to have got no response from the director’s office or from the ministry to his letter.

Dr Lal did not immediately respond to multiple calls and text message by HT reporter to seek his response to Singh’s allegations.

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