The dean appointment row, which began with the resignation of Dr Prakash Sayami from the Institute of Medicine (IoM) and peaked with the fast-unto-death of Dr Govinda KC, still seems far from over.
The issue seems intractable even after Chairman of Interim Election Council Khil Raj Regmi strongly questioned the capabilities of Tribhuvan University (TU) officials on Sunday.
Calling an emergency meeting in the capacity of the university´s Chancellor, Regmi, warned the TU Vice-chancellor (VC), Registrar and Rector of consequences if the dean appointment process did not conclude by Monday.
“Chairman Regmi wanted us to announce new name today (Sunday) itself, which was impossible as the dean search committee is yet to recommend any name to us,” TU Registrar Chandra Mani Poudel told Republica.
“Responding to his warning, we expressed our helplessness as we could not but wait for the search committee´s recommendation - lest the TUTH doctors would disregard the appointment as unlawful,” Poudel added.
Following the second round of the fast-unto-death of Dr KC that enters the third day on Monday, Chairman Regmi had called the urgent meeting.
Dr KC had ended his hunger strike on the 14th day on January 24 after the Prime Minister´s Office sent him a written commitment to fulfill his demands on making medical system fair and transparent.
Meanwhile, MBBS doctors, resident doctors and the Faculty Doctors´ Association restricted the newly appointed TU Teaching Hospital (TUTH) Acting Director Dr Ratindra Shrestha to assume his office today, charging the TU officials with the “unlawful appointment”.
Though the directorial post is filled as per the IoM dean´s recommendation to the TU, the university officials made the appointment to fill the vacant post following Dr Bhagwan Koirala´s resignation on Saturday. TU VC Hira Bahadur Maharjan had immediately accepted his resignation.
“Dr Shrestha was restricted to assume the office following the procedural flaw in his appointment,” said Dr Ranjan Sapkota, who participated in the protest.
Twenty one of the total 26 departmental heads are supporting Dr KC´s demands at present, according to the agitating doctors.
Earlier on the day, the newly appointed acting Director Dr Shrestha had gone to his workplace along with the remarkable number of security personnel.
“The police did not interfere in the protest and I sent my appointment documents and registered my signature as the acting director through some officials before leaving,” Dr Shrestha told Republica.
Meanwhile, a delegation of the doctors supporting Dr KC´s demands went to meet Chairman Regmi late in the evening to urge him for strong step to stop an ongoing chaotic situation in the medical system under the TU.
The three-member dean search committee that is responsible to recommend the name of the new dean of the IoM to the TU Executive Council is almost defunct for a few days following the resignation of one of its member- Dr Dipak Mahara.
The TU executive council is set to appoint new member of the committee to give it a full shape again on Monday. “The search committee was initially divided, let´s hope that the IoM gets new dean on Monday itself,” said the TU Registrar Poudel.