The British Medical Journal (BMJ) recently reported that charges were dropped by the CBI court in Lucknow against the disgraced ex-MCI president, Dr. Ketan Desai. The BMJ article (carried by PBT) also reported that despite Dr. Desai’s several criminal indictments and a grossly tarnished background, the World Medical Association (WMA) recently decided to select Dr. Desai to be WMA president for 2016. This is the first time in medical history that a doctor of Indian origin is given the highly prestigious post of WMA president. In a response to the BMJ article, PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, has raised an important question as to why the WMA had to select perhaps the most notorious doctor in Indian medicine as their president for 2016. Dr. Saha’s response to BMJ can be viewed at the BMJ website (www.thebmj.com). It is also reproduced below:
“The name of Dr. Ketan Desai is well-known, nationally as well as internationally, amongst all doctors of Indian origin, albeit not always for the right reasons. As reported in this article, despite having been indicted for serious criminal charges including bribery and corruption during his time as the head of the Indian Medical Council (MCI), Dr. Desai was recently chosen as World Medical Association (WMA) president-elect for 2016 based on pro-Desai claims made by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) that leaves no doubt that Dr. Desai still maintains a strong grip over the medical fraternity in India.
India has approximately 700,000 to 800,000 registered doctors many of whom are performing wonderful job in India. In addition, large number of doctors of Indian origin have settled in other countries including UK and USA. Some of these non-resident Indian (NRI) doctors have also made great contribution to the society through practice or major discoveries to advance medical science. One must wonder why the WMA had to choose seemingly the most controversial doctor from India to lead this international medical organization for 2016.
Although all charges but one against Dr. Desai have been dropped, the main case for alleged bribery as the MCI president is still pending against him in Delhi. Indian as well as large part of international medical communities are in serious need to uplift public trust, honesty and transparency. Selection of a doctor facing criminal charges to head the WMA is not likely to help in our endeavor for an improved doctor-patient relationship in the future.”
Competing interests: Author is also the founding-president of People for Better Treatment (PBT), a registered humanitarian organization dedicated to fight medical corruption in India. The PBT has also filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in Delhi against the selection of Dr. Ketan Desai as the World Medical Association president-elect for 2016.
Top international medical journal from United Kingdom, British Medical Journal (BMJ), reported the news of sudden dismissal of all charges against disgraced ex-MCI president, Dr. Ketan Desai, by the magistrate at the CBI court in Lucknow earlier in the week (see the BMJ article below). The charges for “cheating” and “conspiracy” against Desai was dropped after almost five years on the technical ground that CBI did not obtain any “sanction” from the government before charging him for criminal action. Although there are many instances that public servants have been prosecuted for alleged corruption even without prior “sanction”, many are asking the question that why CBI wilted under this simple challenge by Desai and his attorneys. It is worthwhile to mention that serious allegation was raised recently in Supreme Court that the last CBI Director, Ranjit Sinha, had several secret meetings with Dr. Desai. In any event, Dr. Desai still remains criminal indicted in the original CBI “trap” case for taking a bribe of Rs. 2 crore from a private medical college in Punjab. Publication of this ongoing sordid sage involving Ketan Desai in the high profile international medical journal like BMJ would undoubtedly bring more disgrace for all doctors of Indian origin. Unfortunately, no medical groups or individual doctors are protesting against this ongoing atrocities by Desai and his medical cronies. Indian Medical Association (IMA), the largest organization of doctors in India, is also known to be controlled only by Desai and his cronies. In fact, IMA has been trying hard to promote and glorify Dr. Desai by pushing him to become the president of World Medical Association (WMA) as noted in the BMJ report.
BMJ (Sept 24, 2015) Ketan Desai
In what appears to be a lackluster performance by the CBI prosecutors, a special court in Lucknow allowed disgraced ex-MCI president, Dr. Ketan Desai’s application for his removal from criminal charges for “cheating” and “conspiracy” on a purely technical ground that no “sanction” (under section 197 CrPC) was obtained from the authority by the CBI before moving against Dr. Desai. In the Lucknow case, Dr. Desai, then working as MCI president, was accused to conspire to grant MCI permission to Ram Murthy Medical College, a private medical college in Bareily, U.P. even though the college was alleged not to have necessary infrastructures or faculties to train medical students. While the court did not get an opportunity to judge the merit of the allegations against Dr. Desai since there was no trial, Dr. Desai managed to escape from serious charges of cheating and conspiracy on the purely technical ground of “sanction” as Desai’s lawyers successfully argued that as a sitting MCI president when he was charged by the CBI, Dr. Desai was protected by “sanction” under section 197 CrPC.
The “sanction” requirement for entrapping or arresting corrupt public officials has been a subject of major controversy in Indian jurisprudence for a long time. Although at the beginning, CBI in Lucknow claimed that they have a strong case of corruption and cheating against Dr. Desai, their advocates were not able to put up a strong opposition in the court. It is to be seen whether CBI challenges this unexpected decision by the trial court before higher legal forum. Cronies of Dr. Desai and unscrupulous IMA leaders in Delhi are thrilled with this sudden decision by the trial court judge in Lucknow as they have started to claim that all criminal charges against Dr. Desai have been dropped even though Desai is still waiting for criminal trial to begin in main “trap” case against him pending before the Patiala Court in Delhi. PBT is keeping close eyes on these recent developments involving the biggest medical mafia in India and will take appropriate legal action to bring justice for the wide-spread medical corruption in India, caused primarily through deep-rooted collusion between the inept governments (both BJP-led and previously Congress-led), Dr. Desai and large number of his medical cronies who are still occupying high positions in MCI and IMA.
In accordance to the order passed last week by Supreme Court of India, PBT has filed a new writ petition (PIL) in Delhi High Court today seeking investigation of the wide-spread corruption inside the Medical Council of India (MCI) and direction for removal of disgraced ex-MCI president, Dr. Ketan Desai, from the post of World Medical Association (WMA) president-elect for 2016. Despite facing criminal trial for serious allegations of bribery and corruption and having suspended medical license, Dr. Desai was reinstated last year as the WMA president-elect after several top MCI/IMA leaders including chairman of the MCI Grievance Committee, Dr. Ajay Kumar, made false submission before the world medical body that all charges against Dr. Desai have been dropped by the Indian authority. The MCI president and a long-known Desai crony, Dr. Jayshreeben Mehta, also harassed the chief vigilance officer (CVO) as she refused to take any action against the top MCI/IMA leaders including Dr. Ajay Kumar, Dr. Vinay Aggarwal and Dr. Sudipto Roy, who were found guilty for unethical conduct and helping Dr. Desai to regain the post of WMA president-elect. All these important issues will come before Delhi High Court when this new PIL comes up for hearing soon.
After hearing arguments for the PIL filed by PBT against the deliberate and sinister promotion of disgraced ex-MCI president, Dr. Ketan Desai, to the prestigious post of WMA president-elect, division bench headed by the Chief Justice in Supreme Court of India (SC) granted permission to approach the High Court seeking appropriate reliefs for removal of Dr. Desai from the post of WMA president-elect (see the SC order below). This PIL was filed after several high-rank members of MCI and Indian Medical Association (IMA) made a false claim that all charges against Dr. Desai has been dropped by the Indian authority even though Dr. Desai remains free on bail and waiting for his criminal trial to begin for alleged bribery and corruption since he was caught red-handed by the CBI for taking huge bribe from a private medical college while Dr. Desai was still working as the MCI president in April, 2010. Apart from MCI, IMA and Dr. Ketan Desai, this unprecedented PIL also includes the international medical body (WMA) and Dr. Ajay Kumar, senior member of MCI/IMA who made the fraudulent claim before WMA with an application from the national IMA to reinstate Dr. Desai as the WMA president-elect. PBT will approach the Delhi High Court soon, as directed by the Apex Court, to bring justice for this colossal medical corruption.
SC Order (Sept 14, 2015) PIL-MCI-WMA-Ketan Desai
Calcutta High Court (HC) division bench of Justices Mr. Girish Chandra Ghosh and Mr. Shib Sadhan Sadhu has set aside single-bench judgment and allowed an appeal filed by PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, challenging the fraudulent and wrongful selection of Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee for the prestigious Bangabibhusan award in medicine in 2014 by the Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal. Despite conviction by the Supreme Court of India and award of highest compensation for gross medical negligence causing death of Anuradha Saha, Bengal government had chosen Dr. Mukherjee for the Bangabibhusan award through a botched selection process in order to restore Dr. Mukherjee’s grossly tainted public image. Allegation against the Mamata Banerjee government also included gross abuse of power and violation of Article 144 of Indian Constitution which mandates that all public and private authorities are duty bound to abide by the observations made by the Apex Court. The Bengal government had also appointed the negligent physician (Dr. Mukherjee) as the “chief adviser” for the health department.
After Dr. Saha challenged the state government’s decision to choose Dr. Mukherjee for the Bangabibhusan award, a single-Judge dismissed his writ petition last year solely on the ground of locus standi without looking into the merit of the case that also included serious allegation of “fraud” by the Mamata Banerjee government. An appeal was moved by Dr. Saha against the said judgment by the single-bench. Dr. Saha also appeared “in person” and argued before the division bench during his visit to Kolkata last month. The division bench today has allowed Dr. Saha’s appeal and set aside the ground of locus standi as held by the single-bench Judge and remanded the case back to the single-bench with direction that the case must be judged on merit including the allegation of fraud against the state government.
As admitted in the response-affidavit filed by the State Govt., Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee headed a 5-member Committee that selected Dr. Mukherjee for the Bangabibhusan award on 17th May, 2014 (Govt. affidavit attached, see page 17-18). Ironically, a day earlier, that is on 16th May, 2014, Kolkata media had already published names of everybody, including Dr. Mukherjee, who received the Bangabibhusan award for the year 2014. Obviously, it was a fraudulent and botched selection by the Mamata Banerjee for the Bangabibhusan award. But the single-judge never considered the serious allegation of deception and fraud by the state government while dismissing the writ petition last year. The court will now have to look into these allegations of fraud and wrongdoings by the state government on merit. Dr. Saha has sough a full CBI investigation of the process for Bangabibhusan award and removal of Dr. Mukherjee from the highest award by the state government.
Cal HC (Bangabhibushan Award) WB Govt. Response 6-20-2014A
The British Medical Journal (BMJ), one of the top international medical journal, published a report yesterday showing glaringly “unethical” practice by private hospitals in India to make huge financial profit by forcing doctors to order needless diagnostic tests and surgical procedures in order to extract money from the defenseless patients. While unethical practice by many Indian doctors such as getting “commission” or financial kickback for referring patients is a common knowledge today, the BMJ article has exposed the deplorable fact that doctors in pricey private hospitals are pressured to generate more revenue from the patients through unnecessary medical procedures that sometimes may even bring serious danger to the hapless patients. The report has also acknowledged that the root of this colossal healthcare problem in India originates from the corrupt regulatory system including the Medical Council of India (MCI) and state medical councils (SMCs) as well as the inept government that has remained in deep slumber even on the face of such brazen cheating and violation of patients’ rights. The article has specifically acknowledged the good work that PBT has been performing over the years against the wide-spread medical corruption in India. The entire BMJ article is shown below that can also be seen online at http://www.bmj.com/content/351/bmj.h4312
BMJ (Sept 3, 2015)
New information obtained (under RTI Act) by PBT shows that over the past 4 years since the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinomul Congress (TMC) came to power, West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) has found only 3 doctors guilty for medical and/or ethical violation and suspended their medical registration for a period ranging between 3 months to 1 year. The news is only marginally better during the reign of the previous Left-front government that ruled West Bengal for more than 33 years until they were ousted in 2011. Information obtained shows that between 2000 and 2010, only 20 doctors were found guilty and lost their practicing licenses by the state medical council. Another striking information is the fact that the WBMC Registrar, Mr. D.K. Ghosh, has been working in the council since 1976, i.e. for almost 40 years. He was given several extensions by the government even after he crossed the mandatory retirement age long time ago – one wonders why. Was the WBMC Registrar performed incredibly well to protect the innocent patients or was he a good conduit to suppress corrupt activities inside the state medical council? It may be mentioned in this regard that all 17 doctor-members of the previous WBMC (under Left-front ruling) have been criminally indicted and facing serious charges under IPC Section 120b (criminal conspiracy) and Section 201 (screening offender) for shielding senior physician, Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee, from justice for the wrongful death of Anuradha Saha.
The Mamata Banerjee came to power with boisterous claim that they would bring reform to the crumbling healthcare system in the state. But over the past four years, the medical delivery system in West Bengal has gone from bad to worse. Numerous allegations of corruption, nepotism and reckless behavior have surfaced in the recent months against the sitting WBMC president and a close ally of the chief minister, Dr. Nirmal Maji, who has continued to claim publicly that the medical council under his leadership has been performing a much better job than what had happened under the Left-front government. The information obtained by PBT paints an exactly opposite picture. Earlier this month, PBT also reported that MCI has ranked the WBMC worst in the country in proper disposal of complaints against doctors. It appears that the hapless patients of West Bengal have jumped from the frying pan to the fire by electing the Mamata Banerjee government.
PBT has filed a new public interest litigation (PIL) in the Supreme Court today seeking direction to the Medical Council of India (MCI) and Ministry of Health to take appropriate measures for immediate removal of disgraced ex-MCI president, Dr. Ketan Desai, from the prestigious post of World Medical Association (WMA) president-elect. Apart from MCI, Indian Medical Association (IMA), Ministry of Health, Dr. Ketan Desai and Dr. Ajay Kumar (senior MCI and IMA member), this PIL has also impleaded France-based WMA for their role in promoting Dr. Desai who is free on bail facing serious criminal charges for bribery and corruption and whose license to practice medicine still remains suspended by the MCI.
This unprecedented PIL has brought forward a large number of supporting documents to show how top MCI/IMA members including Dr. Ajay Kumar (who is presently the chairman of MCI Grievance Committee) went before the world medical body (WMA) and presented false information that all charges against Dr. Desai have been withdrawn by the Indian authority only to hoodwink the WMA to reinstate Dr. Desai as their president-elect for 2016. This PIL has also brought forward evidence of wide-spread corruption inside the MCI and how the inept Indian Health Ministry has kept blind eyes to the ongoing medical corruption in the MCI. The PIL has also presented evidence of threat and harassment by the present MCI president against then Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO), Mr. H.K. Jethi, who was in charge of investigation of allegations against the MCI members for helping Dr. Desai regain the post of WMA president. Notices have been issued by the Apex Court in a separate but related PIL filed last year by PBT against the alleged rigging of the MCI election by Dr. Desai and his cronies.
A historic public interest litigation (PIL) was filed in the Supreme Court (SC) by PBT last November against Medical Council of India (MCI), Health Ministry and disgraced ex-MCI president, Dr. Ketan Desai seeking CBI investigation of the last MCI election for alleged rigging and manipulation by Dr. Desai and his cronies who are now occupying top positions in the present MCI. The Apex Court took cognizance and issued notices to all the respondents. But none of the respondents including MCI filed any response until now and instead sought repeated adjournments. When this case came for hearing before the bench headed by CJI, MCI sought another adjournment. Although the SC allowed further time of 4 weeks to file affidavit, it has also fixed the final hearing date of this important PIL on 4th November, 2015. One has to wonder why the MCI and Health Ministry are delaying this case against alleged connivance between MCI, Union of India and unscrupulous ex-MCI chief, Dr. Desai who is still free on bail facing criminal trial for serious charges of bribery and corruption.
In a rare revelation of truth as to how victims of medical negligence are treated by the state medical councils, PBT has obtained scathing information under the RTI Act, 2005 from the Medical Council of India (MCI) documents containing the minutes of the MCI Ethics Committee minutes in which West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) and Punjab & Haryana Medical Council (PHMC) have been found to be the worst culprit in delaying investigation of complaints against the errant doctors (see MCI report below). The MCI Ethics Committee has categorically held that WBMC and PHMC routinely drag complaints of medical negligence for years forcing the hapless victims lodge appeal to the MCI under section 8.7 of MCI Code of Ethics & Regulations, 2002 which stipulates that complaints against doctors must be decided within a time limit of 6 months. It may be noted that Section 8.7 was enacted into law at the direction of the Supreme Court in 2004 in response to the PIL filed by PBT. The MCI has further expressed concern that the inordinate delay in investigation by WBMC and PHMC has also compelled the justice-seekers to travel to Delhi to appear before the MCI that has caused extreme hardship for many victims of medical negligence. It is unfortunate that despite acknowledging the sinister motive by the two state medical councils almost two years ago, MCI itself has remained listless to fix this problem or take action against the WBMC and PHMC.
In a rare move involving cases against medical negligence, the Calcutta High Court imposed a cost against West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) yesterday for deliberate delay in filing response affidavit in the writ petition for cancellation of license of Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee, disgraced physician who was held guilty for causing death of Anuradha Saha by the Supreme Court that also made him and some other doctors/AMRI hospital in Kolkata to pay the highest compensation in Indian medical history. The WBMC found nothing wrong with Dr. Mukherjee’s treatment and gave him a clean chit in 2002. However, after a historic legal fight by Anuradha’s husband and PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, Apex Court found Dr. Mukherjee as the main culprit doctor responsible for Anuradha’s death in 2009. The Apex Court also awarded Rs. 11.5 crore as compensation against Mukherjee and others in 2013. The Medical Council of India (MCI), highest medical regulatory body in India, also found Dr. Mukherjee guilty for medical negligence and directed WBMC to cancel his medical registration in 2011. Ironically, the 17 doctor-members who acquitted Dr. Mukherjee in 2002 were indicted for “criminal conspiracy” (IPC Section 120b) by the trial court and Calcutta High Court also dismissed the quashing petition filed by the WBMC members. Although the indicted WBMC doctors including then WBMC president, Dr. Ashok Chowdhury have filed an appeal in the Supreme Court, they are now waiting for criminal trial to begin for the first time in Indian medical history.
Dr. Saha filed the new writ petition after WBMC refused to cancel Dr. Mukherjee’s license even after MCI found him guilty for medical negligence and Calcutta High Court clearly declared that finding of the Apex Court must be binding on all state medical councils and MCI. Dr. Saha came from USA to argue this important matter before Calcutta High Court but the hearings were delayed due to a “boycott” call by the Calcutta High Court Bar. However, even after the court started functioning, WBMC were not able to file their response affidavit and sought more time when the case was heard on Wednesday. Dr. Saha, appearing in person, pressed the court to impose penalty against WBMC for their willful delay of the case only to harass Dr. Saha who had to wait coming all the way from his permanent place of residence in USA. The court agreed and imposed a cost of “100 gems” against the WBMC. The matter has been fixed for final hearing on August 17, 2015.
Since July 22, 2015, a fraction of the lawyers in Calcutta High Court who are backed by the ruling Trinomool Congress Party (TMC)have been boycotting a particular division bench presided by Justice Girish Chandra Gupta causing endless pain and suffering for the innocent justice-seekers in West Bengal. Dr. Kunal Saha, founding-president of PBT, came all the way from his permanent residence in USA to argue “in person” two matters related to his wife, Anuradha Saha’s wrongful death. The first case is against the unscrupulous West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC)that has still refused to cancel the license of Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee, principal culprit doctor who was convicted by the Supreme Court and paid the highest compensation in Indian medical history for causing death of Anuradha Saha. The second case is against the equally unscrupulous Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government that chose Dr. Mukherjee in 2014 to received the prestigious Bangabibhusan award for contribution in medicine despite his conviction by the Apex Court for gross medical negligence.
Although Dr. Saha came from USA to argue “in person” on July 24, no one appeared for the accused parties due to the lawyers’ boycott of the court. Dr. Saha moved an urgent petition before the Supreme Court against this unlawful “boycott” by advocates and the endless misery that he and all innocent justice-seekers were subjected to from this ongoing disruption of the court proceedings. The Apex Court heard his SLP on an urgent basis on Friday (July 31) and directed that Calcutta High Court must hear his case, if necessary, by a different bench. The SC also gave “leave” to Dr. Saha to mention this before the Calcutta HC Chief Justice. However, in the meantime, the bench of Justice Gupta also heard Dr. Saha’s appeal on the same day that Apex Court took his case, that is 31st July, and fixed the matter for final hearing on Wednesday (Aug. 5) with a categorical direction that the case would be heard ex perte even if nobody appears on behalf of the respondents. The immoral and unlawful “boycott” by Kolkata advocates is likely to come under the scanner again on Monday (Aug. 3) when Dr. Saha would mention this before the Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court (see news below).
Telegraph (July 25, 2015)Statesman (Aug 1, 2015)
DNA (July 31, 2015)
Jagran (Aug 1, 2015)
After the landmark judgment of Rs. 11.5 crore awarded because of negligent death of Anuradha Saha, Supreme Court awarded another historic compensation to the tune of Rs. 1.8 crore to another victim medical negligence (see news below). Apex Court division bench of Justices Mr. J.S. Khehar and Mr. S.A. Bobde delivered this historic judgment yesterday in a case where a newborn child lost her vision due to a botched retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) surgery back in 1996. Ironically, the surgery was performed at Government Hospital for Women and Children at Egmore in Chennai. The National Consumer Forum (NCDRC) awarded only Rs. 5 lakh compensation which was challenged before the Supreme Court by the child’s father, Mr. Krishnakumar, for enhancement of the award. The Apex Court eventually awarded Rs. 1.8 crore including Rs. 42.8 lakh for medical expenses. In Anuradha Saha case, NCDRC initially awarded only Rs. 1.7 crore compensation which was enhanced by the Supreme Court to the tune of Rs. 11.5 crore (including interest) against three senior Kolkata doctors (Sukumar Mukherjee, Baidyanath Halder and Balaram Prasad) and AMRI Hospital in Kolkata.
Ind. Express (July 2, 2015) SC awards Rs. 1.8 crore
In an unprecedented display of sheer ignorance about medical science and gross abuse of political power, West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) president, Dr. Nirmal Maji, who is also a member of the Medical Council of India (MCI), orchestrated a plan to perform dialysis of his pet dog in the Nephrology department of SSKM Hospital, the premier government super-specialty medical center in Kolkata. Maji was helped in this horrendous medical misadventure by two other senior government doctors, Dr. Pradip Mitra, Director of SSKM and Dr. Rajendra Pandey, head of SSKM Nephrology department. It is fortunate that the planned medical misadventure to use blood from an ailing dog in a machine which is regularly used for dialysis of human patients suffering from renal insufficiency did not materialize since some attending physicians refused to treat a dog in a human hospital
Although a medical doctor, Maji is also a sitting MLA of the ruling Trinomool-Congress party and by virtue of his close association with Bengal CM Mamata Bajerjee, he has gathered massive political power in running the health department. Maji is also the president of West Bengal branch of Indian Medical Association (IMA). Maji became WBMC president through an ordinance after Trinomool came to power in 2011 which was successfully challenged by the PBT in Calcutta High Court. PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, has written to Bengal Governor, Mr. Keshari Nath Tripathi, seeking his immediate intervention in this medical fiasco and demanded that Maji be removed from his post of WBMC president. PBT has also demanded that registration of all three doctors including Maji be cancelled for their brazenly negligent and unethical conduct (see PBT letter to Governor below).