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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)

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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

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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).

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PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, has filed a new petition to central health minister, Mr. J.P. Nadda, demanding that disciplinary action must be taken within two weeks against three top MCI members, Dr. Ajay Kumar, Dr. Sudipto Roy and Dr. Vinay Aggarwal, as recommended last year by the Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO) for helping disgraced ex-MCI president, Dr. Ketan Desai, regain the prestigious post of World Medical President (WMA) president-elect. As PBT reported earlier, the three senior MCI members (Kumar/Roy/Aggarwal) went before the world medical body and made a false claim that all charges against Desai were dropped by the Indian authority and based on these false claim, Desai was selected as WMA president-elect for 2016. Desai is still free on bail and waiting for his criminal trial to start in at least two separate CBI cases for serious charges of bribery and corruption.

After PBT lodged several complaints before different fora, then MCI-CVO, Mr. H.K. Jethi, conducted a full investigation and found Drs. Kumar/ROY/Aggarwal guilty for “unethical conduct’ and recommended last October to MCI president Dr. Jayshreeben Mehta, another well-known close associate of Desai, that disciplinary action should be taken against the three MCI members who are also holding top posts in important MCI Committees and thus, have strong influence over the healthcare regulatory system. The PMO directed for “prompt” redressal of PBT’s allegations last December and even the Health Ministry sent an “urgent” letter to MCI president on 19th March, 2015 asking for immediate action in this matter (see Health Ministry letter below), but MCI president has remained absolutely silent till now. Our repeated pleas to MCI for disciplinary action against Drs. Kumar/Roy/Aggarwal and to write to WMA for removal of Desai from the post of WMA president-elect. We also wonder why the Health Ministry has also remained aloof for so long to go after corruption in MCI. PBT has given two weeks time to the Health Minister after which they may move the court for justice.
Annexure A (Health Ministry complaint) June, 2015

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Disgraced ex-MCI president was caught red-handed by CBI for taking bribe from a private medical college in 2010. The criminal case against Desai is still pending in CBI court in Delhi as he remains free on bail. Despite his grossly tainted background, Indian Medical Association (IMA), largest medical lobby in India which is controlled by Desai and his cronies, successfully touted for Desai to make him president-elect for the World Medical Association (WMA) in 2014 with a blatantly false claim that all charges against Desai have been dropped by the Indian government.

PBT raised strong protest with WMA against Desai’s selection as “president-elect” based on false claim made by IMA and specifically wrote to present WMA president, Dr. Xavier Deau from France, as well as WMA Council chairperson, Dr. Ardis Hoven from USA, urging them to investigate and take immediate measures to remove Desai from his fraudulently claimed post of WMA president-elect. Several months have passed but top leaders of WMA have remained absolutely silent to the serious charges against their “president-elect” and criminally indicted Ketan Desai. Our repeated phone calls and faxes to WMA office have also fallen in deaf ears. We wonder why a large international medical body like WMA nominated the biggest medical mafia of Indian medicine as their future president. Has the wide-spread corruption in India’s healthcare system already reached far beyond the country’s borders?

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“Patients’ Day” (Rogi Divas) was celebrated today (May 28) in a packed auditorium in Kolkata to commemorate patients’ rights and to bring awareness about medical negligence. PBT president, Kunal Saha, spoke through video-conference from USA and demanded that government must take action to eradicate the wide-spread corruption that has crippled Indian’s healthcare and medical education system. Two glaring episodes of gross medical corruption were highlighted. In one, Madan Mitra, a tainted minister of Mamata Banerjee’s government in West Bengal who was arrested by CBI for his role in the Saradha chit fund scam was able to avoid jail by virtue of a medical certificate issued by doctors in the government SSKM hospital. The other episode involves disgraced ex-MCI president, Dr. Ketan Desai, who is still running MCI from behind the curtain. Despite repeated appeals by PBT, neither the central government nor Mamata Banerjee has shown any interest to go after these corrupt practices by the devious members of the medical fraternity. PBT has vouched to fight medical corruption in the public arena and if necessary, move the court against the pervasive medical corruption (see news below).

Hindu (May 29, 2015)
Statesman (May 29, 2015)
Ganashakti (May 29, 2015)

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Division bench presiding by Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court passed an unequivocal judgment on 5th May, 2015 declaring that WBMC must act in accordance to the order from Medical Council of India (MCI) for suspension of medical registrations of 8 negligent doctors who snatched away four precious lives in hospitals across West Bengal. After the victims’ families came to PBT seeking help in finding justice, they were guided to move MCI under sections 8.7 or 8.8 of “Code of Ethics & Regulations, 2002″ since the devious state medical council was working only to shield the guilty doctors. But even after MCI held the doctors guilty for medical negligence and directed WBMC to suspend their medical licenses for a period between 1 and 5 years vide a final order last January, WBMC, which is under control of doctors belonging to the Trinomul-Congress party, continued their deep slumber and took no action for suspension of licenses of the 8 doctors who also moved Calcutta High Court seeking to quash the MCI order.
As mentioned above, division bench of Calcutta High Court dismissed the doctors’ petition and directed WBMC to take necessary action for suspension of registrations of the negligent doctors as ordered by the MCI. The deliberate inaction by WBMC to suspend the licenses of all 8 errant physicians not only violates the specific order of the High Court, it also encourages negligent practice of medicine by doctors across West Bengal. PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, has submitted an urgent appeal with WBMC today urging them for immediate suspension of licenses of all 8 doctors. Dr. Saha has also issued a stern warning to WBMC Registrar, Mr. D.K. Ghosh, that unless they take action for suspension of medical registrations of all the delinquent doctors within two weeks, PBT may move the court seeking “contempt of court” action against the devious WBMC members (see PBT’s appeal below).

WBMC Appeal (May 18, 2015)

Cal HC Judg. (May 5, 2015) Biman Saharoy case

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In view of the judgment passed by the Supreme Court of India in response to the PIL filed by our organization (PBT) in SC Writ Petition No. 316/2012 against “doctors’ strike”, Medical Council of India (MCI) has issued a circular to all State Medical Councils (SMCs) directing them to take cognizance of all matters related to doctors’ strike and “to take necessary action against the doctor concerned” (see MCI circular below). PBT filed the said writ petition in Supreme Court in view of a nation-wide “doctors’ strike” called by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) in 2012 that crippled the healthcare delivery system and caused deaths and injuries to hapless patients across India. While disposing the writ petition, Apex Court had held that doctors should not resort to strike and that MCI should take disciplinary action against the striking doctors.

Unfortunately, despite SC’s specific directives last November, doctors across India have continued to go on strike holding the ailing citizens at ransom, especially the poor patients who have no choice but to attend government hospitals. PBT has also brought this to the attention of the health department. After more than five months, MCI has now woken up and issued this notice to all SMCs so that any doctor joining “doctors’ strike” may face disciplinary action including permanent loss of his/her license to practice. Although PBT supports all legitimate demands by members of the medical community, we welcome this move by MCI since “doctors’ strike” is not only immoral and against the Hippocratic Oath, no patient should suffer only to settle score between medical fraternity and government.

MCI Circular – Doc Strike (May, 2015)

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The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC), highest consumer court in India, passed a historic judgment granting an award of Rs. 1.1 crore (Rs. 1 crore compensation plus Rs. 10 lakh as “punitive damage”) against the Apollo Hospital in New Delhi for wrongful delivery of a child causing permanent damage in his brain in a botched up medical procedure in 1999 (see the entire judgment below). This historic compensation was allowed on the basis of Anuradha Saha decision by the Supreme Court in 2013 in which the Apex Court awarded a total of more than Rs. 11.5 crore as compensation and held that compensation involving “medical negligence” cannot be calculated using the straight-jacket formula of “multiplier” method that had been the norm until then. Apart from Anuradha Saha’s case, this is the second highest compensation in Indian medical history against a top hospital like Apollo. Following the principles set in Anuradha Saha case, NCDRC has directed Apollo Hospital to pay Rs. 80 lakh and the main accused doctor, Dr. Sohini Verma, to pay Rs. 20 lakh. The “punitive” or exemplary damage of Rs. 10 lakh is also significant in context of Indian medical practice because “punitive” damages are awarded (mostly in Western countries) against an act of social significance and thus, all future cases of “medical negligence” where the doctor/hospital is found guilty, “punitive” damages should be awarded by the state and district consumer forums. This historic judgment by the National Consumer Forum will undoubtedly bring a ray of hope for the thousands of hapless victims of medical negligence who have been waiting for their day of justice. It will also send a strong signal to the negligent doctors and hospitals in India.

NCDRC Judg. (Apr, 2015) 1 crore compensation

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PBT reported few days ago the atrocity of many negligent and unethical doctors whose license to practice medicine were suspended by the Medical Council of India (MCI) continue to practice anyway because the state medical councils (SMCs) whose duty is to act on MCI’s order to actually cancel medical registration of an errant doctor simply ignore MCI’s direction to allow the guilty doctor practice without any problem. The Times of India (TOI) has carried a report today (April 11) on this topic entitled, “MCI fails to rein in errant doctors” (see below). As reported by TOI, they also contacted MCI president, Dr. Jayshreeben Mehta, to seek a response to PBT’s allegations that MCI’s orders are deliberated flouted by the SMCs and the guilty doctors continuing practice despite their licenses suspended by the MCI. But Dr. Mehta did not provide any answer to TOI’s queries. We wonder why MCI’s top leader is silent on this important issue? Are MCI and SMCs in the same boat whose sole goal is to somehow shield their errant and corrupt medical colleagues? Will our new health minister, Mr. J.P. Nadda, wake up to investigate these corrupt practices by the medical councils for the sake of the hapless patients of India?

TOI (Apr. 11, 2015)

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In a scathing judgment delivered yesterday, Central Information Commission (CIC), highest authority for enforcement of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, has directed Fortis Hospital in Delhi to provide the entire medical records to an advocate whose father died from alleged medical negligence (see the entire CIC judgment below). The son claimed that negligence and maltreatment by the hospital caused his father’s death and sought the medical records from the Fortis Hospital to establish his case but the hospital denied his request (under RTI Act) on the plea that the requested information was “private, confidential and privileged”. Rejecting the claim by the Fortis Hospital, CIC has held that malpractice by private hospitals “amounting to medical terrorism”. The CIC has ended this remarkable judgment by calling that the government, MCI and other regulatory authorities have to see that “license to practice medicine will not become license to kill and extort and come to the rescue of the helpless patients”.

CIC Order (Apr, 2015) V. Good Private hospital must provide information

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It is learned from reliable sources that Medical Council of India (MCI) is all set to reinstate disgraced ex-MCI supremo Dr. Ketan Desai as a regular member of MCI. Dr. Desai is presently free on bail facing serious criminal charges for bribery and corruption. More importantly, Dr. Desai medical registration to practice medicine or be part of any medical council has remained suspended since 2010 after PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, lodged a formal complaint against Desai for violation of MCI Code of Ethics & Regulations. Despite these indisputable evidences against the most notorious doctor in India, Dr. Desai managed to get himself nominated as MCI member from Gujarat University. Almost all top leaders of the present MCI are well-known cronies of Dr. Desai. Supreme Court of India issued notice against MCI and Desai last November after PBT filed a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking CBI investigation of the last MCI election which was allegedly rigged by Desai and his cronies. Unfortunately, despite a grossly tainted public image, Desai has strong backing from BJP, Congress and other major political parties except AAP. In order to stop Desai from being MCI member, PBT has sent a memorandum to MCI president, Dr. Jayshreeben Mehta, urging her not to allow Desai in MCI as this would send a strong negative signal to the honest doctors and ordinary people of India. PBT has also stated that they will move the court if Desai manages to become a member of MCI.

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Major international media groups across Europe and USA have focused in the recent time on the pervasive healthcare corruption in India. Times of India (TOI) today has carried a report entitled, “Healthcare corruption in India hits international headlines” summarizing the stories on Indian medical corruption around the globe (see TOI news below). While top international medical journal, “British Medical Journal” (BMJ), have been reporting on corruption in Indian medicine over the past several months, the latest revelation about the pitiful status of Indian medicine was made in an eye-catching story last week by National Public Radio (NPR) focusing on the legendary fight against medical negligence and healthcare corruption by PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha.

Sitting on top of all corruption episodes inside Indian healthcare system is the sordid tale of disgraced, ex-MCI president, Dr. Ketan Desai. Caught red-handed by CBI while taking bribe from a private medical college in 2010, Dr. Desai is still running Indian medical education and regulatory system sitting behind the curtain. While free on bail waiting for trial in several criminal cases facing serious charges for bribery and corruption, top leaders in MCI and Indian Medical Association (IMA) have been acting brazenly to restore Desai’s tainted public image. Last December, Desai was given the highest honor by IMA as he inaugurated their national medical conference in Ahmedabad with the newly appointed health minister, Mr. J.P. Nadda, sitting next to him. Doctors and Desai supporters like Dr. Ajay Kumar and Dr. Vinay Aggarwal with dubious background continue to occupy highest posts in MCI and IMA despite scathing findings of “unethical” behavior by the central vigilance officer (CVO). Instead of taking cognizance of CVO reports and taking appropriate disciplinary action against the delinquent MCI/IMA leaders, the CVOs were harassed and removed from MCI. Many patients from foreign countries come to India every year seeking cheaper treatment making “medical tourism” a booming business for the country. But the rot in Indian medical system has now started to show up in the foreign countries. BJP government came to power on the promise to fight “corruption”. But until now, there is absolutely no sign that Modi-government’s anti-corruption promise even made any attempt to fix the rot in medicine. The BJP government can no longer continue to look away at the pervasive healthcare corruption. If they do, it will only be at their own peril.

TOI (March 11, 2015)

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British Medical Journal (BMJ) has reported that according to records obtained from National AIDS Control Organization (NACO), highest government body for regulation of HIV/AIDS, almost 9,000 people have contracted HIV through contaminated blood transfusion over the past five years across India (see BMJ report below). PBT president and noted HIV/AIDS specialist, Dr. Kunal Saha was hired by the World Bank in 2007 by World Bank as part of a team that visited hospitals and blood banks in India to investigate allegations of sub-standard kits approved by NACO and used by blood banks across India for detection of HIV in donated blood. The report of World Bank investigation found evidence of rampant corruption with purchase and supply of spurious HIV test kits used by hospitals and blood banks. A criminal case against Monozyme, manufacturer of sub-standard test kits, is still languishing in Kolkata since 2006. PBT also lodged a public interest litigation (PIL) against NACO for supply of sub-standard test kits posing danger to innocent patients. Despite enormous public uproar, neither World Bank nor Indian authority took any concrete steps to prevent the horrific travesty of HIV transmission through tainted blood. The report published in BMJ shows glaring flaws and corruption that are still continuing in blood banks across India. On the wake of this enormous human tragedy, PBT has written to World Bank president, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, seeking his immediate intervention and urging him to stop funding NACO until they assure safe blood supply in all blood banks in India. PBT has also sought adequate compensation for all victims and/or their families who have contracted HIV/AIDS through contaminated blood transfusion. PBT has also demanded that NACO must accept responsibility and publicly declare the names of the almost 9,000 patients who have fallen victims to this colossal medical calamity. Unless Indian government takes immediate and exemplary measures to solve this problem, nobody in India can feel safe if they need transfusion of blood for any medical reason.

BMJ (March, 2015) HIV Transmission by blood

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The highly popular national public radio (NPR) in USA has published a comprehensive story today on PBT and life of its founding-president, Dr. Kunal Saha. The story also underscored a recent article in British Medical Journal (BMJ) highlighting the wide-spread medical corruption and dearth of “whistle-blowers” against the botched healthcare system in India. While the NPR story provides a personal touch with the lives of Dr. Saha and his wife (Anuradha Saha) who died in the most tragic way falling victim to gross medical negligence during a social visit to India in 1998, the article also brings attention to the rapidly changing healthcare delivery system and rising hope for justice for the countless victims of medical negligence in India. Copy of the whole story is attached below and it can also be viewed at NRP website at http://www.npr.org/blogs/goatsandsoda/2015/03/07/390696759/having-loved-and-lost-one-man-takes-on-medical-malpractice-in-india.

NPR Story (March 7, 2015)

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