The Allahabad high court has stayed the Uttar Pradesh government’s decision of suspending Dr. Kafeel Khan for the second time in 2019 for allegedly misbehaving with the staff at Bahraich District Hospital.
In 2017, he was suspended for the first time and was accused of being responsible for the death of several children on the intervening night of August 10 and 11, 2017. This incident was apparently caused because the state-run BRD Medical College Hospital ran out of oxygen on the fateful night which led to the death of children being treated in the encephalitis ward, within a span of 48 hours.
Khan approached the Allahabad high court in which he had assailed his suspension order on the ground that sufficient time had lapsed and the inquiry had not been concluded against him even after more than two years. He had also submitted that since he is already a suspended employee, there is no purpose of passing a second suspension order. There is no rule which permits the State Government to issue a fresh suspension order when the employee is already under suspension, he contended.
On September 9, Justice Saral Srivastava directed the government to conclude the probe related to the 2019 suspension within a month. The order read, “Until further orders of this Court, the operation of order dated 31.07.2019 passed by respondent no.2 shall remain stayed. However, it is directed the respondent no.2 to conclude enquiry against the petitioner within a period of one month.”
However, the Additional Chief Standing Counsel AK Goel, appearing for the government, told the court that the inquiry report against Khan was submitted on August 27, 2021, and a copy was sent to him a day later, on August 28. He also submitted that the disciplinary authority has inherent power to pass a second suspension order and, therefore, the order was in accordance with the law.
He was booked for criminal conspiracy, attempt to commit culpable homicide and criminal breach of trust by a public servant, and the UP police filed a chargesheet in November 2017. While in jail, Dr. Kafeel Khan wrote a letter alleging that he and others were being made “scapegoats” for an “administrative failure” at a higher level.
Khan was absolved of all charges by the departmental inquiry after spending seven months in jail. He was eventually granted bail by the Allahabad high court on April 25, 2018. The court observed that there was no material on record to establish medical negligence and neither was he involved in getting on board the supplier of medical oxygen to the hospital.
In 2020, he was arrested for delivering a provocative speech at the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) on December 12, 2019, against the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019. He was granted bail by the Allahabad high court on February 10, 2020, and he was to be released on February 13, 2020. But soon after, charges under the NSA were slapped against him and he continued to remain under detention.
On September 1, 2020, the high court granted his release while setting aside his detention order and observing that his speech was a call for unity and integrity and did not threaten peace and tranquillity in the city of Aligarh. The government challenged this order, appealing to the Supreme Court but in December last year, the top court refused to interfere with the high court’s decision calling it a “good order”.
In the present matter before the high court, Justice Saral has posted the matter for hearing on November 11.
The order may be read here: