KATHMANDU, Dec 25: The government, which has assigned two secretaries at the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP), has now divided their responsibilities.
As per the decision, Secretary Dr Pushpa Chaudhari has been assigned to look after medical issues while Secretary Kedar Bahadur Adhikari is to look after administrative and population-related matters.
The ministry ended up with two secretaries after the Supreme Court ordered the government not to transfer Dr Chaudhary away from there to the Prime Minister's Office although the government had transferred Adhikari in to take her place at the ministry. Adhikari started attending the ministry from December 10.
The two secretaries had both been working at the ministry since last Tuesday.
The government has tried to sort out the problem to save face following its controversial decision to assign a non-medical individual as a secretary at the ministry in disregard of the usual practices, said MoHP officials. “Dr Chaudhari and Adhikari were using the same office room for about a week. Now they are in two separate rooms.”
The Supreme Court on December 18 issued an order to the government not to transfer Health Secretary Dr Chaudhari to the Prime Minister's Office. She had filed a writ petition at the apex court against the transfer.
A joint bench of Justices Meera Khadka and Ishwar Prasad Khatiwada scrapped a vacate appeal registered by the government last Tuesday.
Dr Chaudhari is a medical doctor. The Oli government transferred her to the Office of Prime Minister and Council Of Ministers, citing unsatisfactory performance at the ministry.
Dr Chaudhari appealed to the Supreme Court on November 1 against her transfer. On November 2, a single bench of Justice Om Prakash Mishra issued a stay order in her favor. She then attended the office every day at MoHP but without doing any official work. The government also filed an application at the SC on November 21 to vacate the stay order issued in response to Dr Chaudhari's petition.
Taking up both cases together, the joint bench of Justices Hari Krishna Karki and Sapana Malla Pradhan sent for the government decisions on the secretary transfers. Karki and Malla were appointed as SC justices under the then CPN-UML quota. The UML later merged with the CPN Maoist Center .
After the government once again breached the practice of appointing medical officers as a secretary at MoHP, Nepal Medical Association (NMA), the professional organization of doctors, demanded that the government correct its decision.