Dr Asha Kishore, director of Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute of Medical Sciences and Technology in Thiruvananthapuram, had said that she is being targeted by politically motivated groups.

Collage of Dr Asha, Shashi Tharoor, Subramanian SwamyFrom left: Dr Asha, Shashi Tharoor, Subramanian Swamy
news Controversy Sunday, October 11, 2020 - 15:49

Members of Parliament (MPs), Subramanian Swamy of the BJP and Congress’s Shashi Tharoor, took to Twitter to extend support to Dr Asha Kishore, director of Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute of Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST), who had recently said that she was being targeted by some politically-motivated persons over the extension of her tenure. Dr Asha’s tenure extension, which was stayed by the Central Administrative Tribunal in August, was set aside by the Kerala High Court.

Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute, a premier medical institute in Kerala under the Union government, has recently been in the news following the tussle over extending Dr Asha’s tenure as the director of the medical institute. It was alleged that some members of the institute, backed by the BJP and RSS members, were behind the move to stay her extension.

BJP MP Subramanian Swamy took to Twitter, drawing a parallel between Dr Asha’s issue and the ISRO espionage case, where former scientist Nambi Narayanan was falsely accused in the case, which even destroyed his career.

“Why are our officials trying to destroy at the behest of foreign forces the research on stents by Dr Asha Kishore, distinguished Director of Sri Chitra Medical Centre at Trivandrum. They are the same as those who destructed ISRO and the career of our distinguished scientists (sic),” he said.

SCTIMST developed an affordable aortic stent-graft (and its delivery system) to treat thoracic aortic aneurysm earlier this year.

Responding to Subramanian Swamy’s tweet, MP Shashi Tharoor said he was happy to see the former taking up Dr Asha’s issue. Shashi Tharoor has been vocal about the issues faced by Dr Asha Kishore.

“Never thought I would agree with Subramanian Swamy on anything but I'm glad to see him take up a cause on which I've been waging a lonely battle for the last four months. Dr Kishore, whose tenure was renewed under the rules, is being persecuted by a political lobby with the sad connivance of GOI,” tweeted Shashi Tharoor.



Dr Asha’s tenure as the director was extended by the Institute on May 12. Despite being an autonomous institute, a group of people opposed the extension of her tenure. They allegedly approached the Central Administrative Tribunal and secured a stay on the extension. Following this, Dr Asha had written to Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, stating that there has been an unwarranted external interference in the administration for the last one year by the same group of people.

However, the Kerala High Court, in a petition filed by Dr Asha, set aside the stay by CAT on August 13. Following this, Dr Asha took charge as the Director of the institute.

Read: ‘I am being targeted’: Sree Chitra Institute director Dr Asha on row over her tenure

The Institute Body’s meeting took a decision to extend Dr Asha’s tenure on June 2 and was approved by Dr VK Saraswat, the president of SCTIMST. Dr Saraswat is also a member of the Niti Aayog.

Dr Asha was to continue holding the post from July 17 this year till her retirement in February 2025.

On July 16, though, Rajiv Kumar Tayal, a Deputy Secretary rank officer of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), wrote to Dr Saraswat, questioning the decision to grant the extension. This letter was despite the fact that the institute has constitutional powers to extend the tenure of its director.

Following this, Dr Asha wrote to Union Health Minister Harshvardhan and said, “Due to my gender they must have considered an easy soft target for them. These men were aided and abetted by a handful of the Institute's employees motivated by personal disgruntlement and vendetta either because of their inability to clear the promotion interview conducted by the Senior Staff Selection Committee (SSSC) due to poor performance and non-fulfilment of the mandatory criteria for promotion, or personal ambitions for the director's post. A few such faculty members have been persistent in projecting an oppressive and draconian picture of this Institute and myself to the outside world," the letter said.

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