The Health and Family Welfare Ministry issued two official statements last Wednesday, announcing that the Union government has lifted the suspension of K.S. James, the director of the International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS), has also approved his resignation.
On October 11, the government swiftly lifted the suspension order of K.S. James, the director of the International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS), and simultaneously accepted his resignation, citing personal reasons. This decision came after the Health and Family Welfare Ministry had originally suspended him on July 28, with immediate effect. The resignation was specified to take effect either upon the clearance of his government dues or immediately, depending on the later of the two. Both notifications were issued on the same day by the Health Ministry.
The revocation of Mr. James’ suspension order was anchored in the authority of Health and Family Welfare Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, who served as the Disciplinary Authority in this case. The original suspension, in accordance with Rule 10(1)(a) of CCS (CCA) Rules, 1965, received approval from the Health Minister, but a subsequent review led to the conclusion that, given significant changes in circumstances, the suspension should not be extended further.
Mr. James had been placed under suspension due to complaints the Health Ministry had received regarding irregularities in recruitment and non-compliance with reservation roster guidelines. A fact-finding committee thoroughly examined these complaints and identified prima facie irregularities in 11 out of the 35 cases received. These irregularities primarily revolved around lapses observed in various aspects, including specific appointments, faculty recruitments, reservation rosters, and dead stock registers. The committee also recommended a comprehensive inquiry into the actions of the registrars and the Director during the relevant period.
The International Institute for Population Sciences operates under the purview of the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and plays a vital role in conducting significant studies, including the National Family Health Survey, Assessment of National Rural Health Mission, and the Global Adult Tobacco Survey.
The government’s decision met with opposition from members of political parties and the scientific community. They raised concerns about the government’s punitive actions and criticized the apparent discomfort of the government in dealing with evidence-based data for developmental purposes.
Professor James, who holds a Ph.D. in demography from Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi, boasts an impressive academic and research background. He has held visiting fellowships at renowned institutions such as the University of Groningen in the Netherlands and the University of Southampton in the UK. Additionally, he has co-authored significant books and major reports, including the India Ageing Report 2017 for the United Nations Population Fund and Population Ageing in India for Cambridge University Press.