Health team grills IGIMS director

A team of health department officials on Friday reportedly interrogated the Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences director for two-and-a-half hours, more than four months after an associate professor of nursing accused him of sexual harassment.

Dr Arun Kumar, director, Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (IGIMS), denied the probe but Sanjay Kumar, secretary, health, confirmed that the interrogation had taken place. A team comprising his namesake Sanjay Kumar, joint secretary, Surendra Prasad Singh, director-in-chief, and additional director Prabha Sinha went to the health hub at 11am. They left at 2pm after interrogating Dr Arun Kumar and other senior officials.

The health secretary said: "A team from our department visited the IGIMS today (Friday) to investigate a case of sexual harassment against the director of the health hub. An associate professor of the hospital had sent a complaint letter to the health department. Dr Arun Kumar told us that the woman had filed the complaint after he demoted her on grounds of not having requisite qualification."

Sources said a 35-year-old associate professor of the nursing cadre had written a complaint to health minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey on September 24, 2012, accusing the IGIMS director of sexual harassment. In the letter, a copy of which is with The Telegraph, the associate professor said Dr Arun Kumar had wanted to have an affair with her. When she repeatedly turned down the proposals, she was demoted on grounds of inadequate qualification.

Copies of the letter were sent to the chief minister, the state human rights commission, national and state commissions for women, the chief justice of Patna High Court, the director-general of Bihar police and the home department.

Dr Arun Kumar refused to comment on the issue but another senior doctor appeared sceptical that any employee of the IGIMS could be demoted on such grounds. "Vacancies at the IGIMS are advertised in newspapers with full details of the criteria. After the applications are scanned, candidates are called for interview. The director of the institute, professors and three senior doctors of Patna as well as experts from outside Bihar conduct the interview. Then the candidate is selected. Even after the selection, the certificates of the candidate are verified by the board of governors, of which the health minister is the chairperson," said the senior IGIMS doctor. He added that it was surprising that the health department had initiated the probe four months after the complaint.

Asked about the delay, R.P. Ojha, spokesperson, health, said: "We proceed slowly and verify everything before taking action in such cases as the complainants are often found to have vested interests."

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