AIIMS defies court order

Despite high court order, AIIMS fails to allot space for charitable pharmacy.

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Sonal Matharu | November 1, 2010



More than a month after the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) director was summoned by the Delhi high court for not allotting space for a charitable pharmacy inside the hospital premises, senior officials responsible for execution of the court order are clueless about the progress of the same.

A division bench of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Valmiki Mehta in May had ordered AIIMS to allot space to Sureka Public Charity Trust (SPCT) for opening a pharmacy where they want to sell medicines at subsidised rates to the poor. The government was supposed to submit a compliance report by September 10 which they failed to do so. AIIMS director RC Deka was summoned on September 30. Though he did not appear in the court, he sent an apology and said that the court orders will be followed at the earliest, sources say.

However, a month later, top AIIMS officials seem to be least bothered about the directive. When Governance Now approached AIIMS medical superintendent DK Sharma, who had earlier commented on the issue, said he would not be able to give any information on the status of the pharmacy. Instead, he referred us to the administration officer (legal) and deputy director (admin) for more information. Administration officer (legal) Bhagirath Jha refused to talk to the media as he said he is not authorised to give any information. Deputy director (admin) Vineet Chawdhry’s personal secretary did not allow an interaction with him saying that he would not be aware of the issue.

However, a junior officer in the hospital who did not want to be named said, he is not aware how the senior authorities have decided to act upon the order but feels that the charitable trust has some vested interest in opening a pharmacy inside the hospital premises.

“How are they (pharmacists) going to assure that those who are buying the medicines are poor? Are they going to check their BPL cards and then give them cheap medicines? This is just a way of making money,” he said.

Vishnu Sureka, the chairman of the Trust, runs a pharmacy by the name ‘Helpline’ in the Yusuf Sarai market near AIIMS where he sells medicines at highly subsidised rates and even for free in some cases. He has been trying for over six years to get space inside the hospital where many poor patients come from outside Delhi and are not aware of his pharmacy where they can get cheap medicines.

“AIIMS has asked for two months’ time to open a pharmacy. They said they would release a tender and cannot handover the space to any one party. They have not even released the tender yet,” said Sureka.

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