While the health ministry has made an abrupt and complete change in the MCI “Board of Governors” (BOG) that has the absolute power to control medical education and practice of medicine in India, serious questions of improper ethical conduct and possible conflict of interest have surfaced against some of the new members including the BOG chairman,Dr. K.K. Talwar. Questions have also been raised about a sinister motive of the health ministry to make this sweeping change in the BOG, especially after it was established that the entire MCI was a den of corruption for a long time under the leadership of the tainted leader and ex-MCI chief Dr. Ketan Desai, who was caught red-handed while taking bribes last year (see the report in Mail Today below).
PBT has learned that Mr. Ankur Talwar, an attorney and son of Dr. K.K. Talwar, had been working as a junior to advocate Mr. Maninder Singh who was the principal legal architect and defended the MCI during the reign of disgraced Dr. Desai and his cronies in the MCI over the past almost two decades. Mr. Singh was removed from the MCI along with the rest of the council members only after Dr. Desai was caught red-handed by the CBI while taking bribes and the entire MCI was dissolved after huge public outcry erupted across India. PBT has obtained the details of at least one case filed by the MCI in which both Mr. Singh and Mr. Ankur Talwar represented Dr. Desai-led medical council [MCI vs. Madhu Singh & Ors.; 2002 (7) SCC 258]. It is truly ironic that the BOG which came into existence only because of the pervasive corruption in the previous MCI now heads by a doctor whose son was directly involved with representing Dr. Desai and MCI in the past. Does it not at least appear as a possible conflict of interest?
PBT has also obtained disturbing information involving Dr. Purushtham Lal, chairman of Metro Hospital, who has also been selected by the government as one of the five new members of the BOG. Dr. Lal was accused of serious violation of medical ethics when he allegedly conducted an illegal clinical trial in 1998 with a new drug at the Metro Hospital seemingly at the insistence of an American company. This highly controversial issue drew international attention and was published in the top international medical journal, “Lancet” (see below). Another alarming factor with the new BOG is that except Dr. Talwar, all other doctor members hail from private hospitals which also raises the question of possible “conflict of interest” for obvious reason. As the saying goes, “Justice should not only be done, it must also appear to be done”. It does not appear that by abrupt selection of new BOG members, the health ministry was eager to bring justice for the hapless patients of India.
The health ministry must provide candid answers as to what actually prompted them to suddenly discard all the members of the last BOG and what prompted them to select these new members, some with controversial past. PBT is going to bring these serious concerns to the prime minister seeking his immediate intervention in this matter that has grave significance on public health in India.