PBT is preparing to spread to different corners of India as PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, is coming down to India next week to promote new PBT branches in different cities across India. Dr. Saha will also attend several ongoing legal cases in different High Courts and Supreme Court of India. A program to promote PBT has already been fixed to be held in Delhi on December 16 (Monday) and in Chennai on December 21 (Saturday). Dr. Saha is also scheduled to attend the 13th Anniversary of PBT on December 30 in Kolkata. Plans for programs in other cities are being made right now. This will be the first time that Dr. Saha will be traveling to India since his historic win in Supreme Court of India that held three top Kolkata doctors (Sukumar Mukherjee, Baidyanath Halder, Balaram Prasad) and AMRI Hospital in Kolkata guilty for causing death of his wife, Anuradha Saha, and awarded a compensation of Rs. 11 crore (including interest), highest in Indian medico-legal history. More information about Dr. Saha’s visit may be obtained by contacting PBT head-office in Kolkata (Tel: 9831983670/9038083120/9836706952)
After the unprecedented award of the highest-ever compensation for “medical negligence” delivered by the Supreme Court just over a month ago, another history was made today from the wrongful death, Anuradha Saha, as corruption inside the highest court of the land came to limelight when CBI Delhi District Court (Saket) Judge Mr. Dinesh Sharma sentenced Mr. C. Perumal and Mr. K.S. Badrinatham, two Supreme Court Registry officials, to jail for a period of 3 and 2 years, respectively, on charges of “bribery” and “criminal conspiracy” (see TOI news below). This unprecedented CBI case stems from an indefinite hunger strike started by Anuradha’s husband, Dr. Kunal Saha, in 2009 in protest of the inordinate delay in his case against several eminent doctors and AMRI hospital in Kolkata who were later found guilty for causing Anuradha’s death by the Apex Court. Reportedly, the two SC employees promised to list Dr. Saha’s case in exchange of a bribe of Rs. 75,00o. But Dr. Saha contacted CBI and trapped the two Apex Court officials as they were caught red-handed while taking the bribe from Dr. Saha on 10th February, 2009. The CBI trial continued for more than 4 years during which Dr. Saha also had to travel to India to testify as the key-witness of this historic case.
While the historic judgment by the CBI court in Delhi today would undoubtedly send a strong signal against corruption in the judiciary, it must also raise serious questions about the pitiful condition of our justice delivery system. If cases could be listed by paying hefty bribe to officials in the Apex Court registry, what would be status of justice in lower courts across India? It would also be naïve to imagine that taking bribe was limited to only two SC registry employees who were caught by the CBI. More important, one must also ponder that nobody would bribe the registry to list his case unless he has a far more sinister motive to obtain a favorable verdict through extraneous influences. Although many judges in the Apex Court have shown unshakable character, there is no denial that corruption has also riddled through the justice delivery system which must be removed for any hope ofTOI (Dec. 4, 2013) further progress of our nation.
PBT president Dr. Kunal Saha and two other doctors from West Bengal filed a new public interest litigation (PIL) in Calcutta High Court on Friday (November 29) seeking to stay the general body meeting to be held on December 10-11, 2013 to elect the next Medical Council of India (MCI) president and vice-president. MCI was dissolved in 2010 because of serious allegations of fraud and corruption following arrest of then MCI president, Dr. Ketan Desai, by the CBI allegedly for taking bribe from a private medical college. Over the past more than three years, MCI was run by a handful of doctors (as “Board of Governors”) selected by the central health ministry. Earlier this month, health ministry published names of only about 59 doctors (out of a total strength of about 130 MCI members) who were already elected or nominated as members for the next MCI and soon thereafter, MCI secretary issued a notice that election of next MCI president and vice-president will be held on December 10-11, 2013 by the new members among themselves.
Most of the 59 doctors named by the health ministry were “nominated” by the state or central government while most members who would be elected by their peers of registered medical practitioners from each state of India are still not in the MCI since these elections is still ongoing in different states at this very moment. In fact, Dr. Saha and the two other doctors who filed the PIL are contesting the election in West Bengal to become a member of next MCI. The final counting of votes by the West Bengal Medical Council will be held in Kolkata on December 19, 2013. Therefore, they (and many other doctors from across India who are also contesting MCI election) will have absolutely no chance to participate in election of the next MCI president/vice-president or to run for becoming MCI president/vice-president even if they win the West Bengal election and become a member of MCI. Ironically, Dr. Ketan Desai and many of his cronies who actually voted to make him MCI president in 2009 have already been nominated or elected as new MCI members. These important points have been raised in the new PIL filed in Kolkata today (see below).
A legal notice was sent to World Medical Association (WMA) president, Dr. Margaret Mungherera from Uganda, on behalf of PBT by a law firm in Ohio for not taking any action to remove disgraced ex-MCI chief, Dr. Ketan Desai, from the post of president-elect (see below). Using his sinister influence, Dr. Desai managed to grab the post of WMA president-elect in 2009 when he was also holding the lucrative post of MCI president. But after Dr. Desai was caught red-handed by CBI while taking bribe from a private medical college in 2010, WMA eventually suspended his post of president-elect under enormous pressure from PBT and other groups. But on October 19, 2013, WMA reinstated Dr. Desai to his post of president-elect because, as WMA claimed, all charges against Dr. Desai had been withdrawn by CBI.
After PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, wrote to CBI, it was informed that the information that all charges against Dr. Desai was withdrawn by CBI is nothing but an “eye wash”. In fact, CBI court in Saket website still shows that the criminal case against Dr. Desai is pending. After PBT brought this huge blunder to the attention of WMA president, Dr. Mungherera, and their head office in Paris and urged WMA to reinstate the ban against Dr. Desai, WMA has remained absolutely silent. The legal notice sent to the WMA president gives her two weeks time to admit their mistake and remove Dr. Desai from the post of president-elect after which a lawsuit may be filed against this international medical body before an appropriate authority.
PBT president Dr. Kunal Saha has submitted an urgent appeal with Union Health Minister, Mr. Ghulam Nabi Azad, urging the government to remove the names of 17 doctors (see the names below) who have been nominated and/or elected as members of the new MCI which is scheduled to be launched next month. These 17 doctors were also members of the previous MCI which was dissolved in 2010 because of wide-spread corruption after then MCI president, Dr. Ketan Desai, was caught red-handed by the CBI for taking bribe from a private medical college. On November 5, 2013, central health ministry published a list of 59 doctors who were claimed to be nominated and/or elected to the next MCI under “Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Ordinance, 2013″. The “Board of Governors” (BOG) which was running MCI since 2010 has already been dissolved. The MCI secretary has also announced a general body meeting of the newly nominated/elected members on December 10, 2013 to elect the president and vice-president for the new MCI.
As Dr. Saha has categorically stated in his appeal to the Health Minister (see below), the 17 doctors who would be members of the next MCI voted to elect Dr. Desai as MCI president in 2009. In fact, one of them (Dr. Rani Bhaskaran) actually nominated Dr. Desai for the top post in MCI in 2009. Ironically, a new law has been introduced in the “Ordinance 2013″ (Section 30-A.2g) which has stipulated that any any member whose inclusion would be “detrimental in public interest” should be removed from MCI. Dr. Saha has pressed that apart from the moral ground, the 17 doctors must be removed from MCI under this new provision of law to restore public trust and to make MCI an honest and trustworthy medical regulatory body.
Not even a month has passed since Supreme Court delivered a historic judgment in Anuradha Saha death case, medical leaders have started crying foul and leaders of Indian Medical Association (IMA) headed by famed cardiac surgeon Dr. Devi Shetty have now demanded that there should be a maximum limit (“cap”) of compensation that any doctor or hospital may pay for causing death of a patient from medical negligence (see news below). Dr. Shetty and IMA, however; have not provided a figure in rupees what should be the maximum worth of a human life. Dr. Shetty has also made a baseless claim that some states in USA have capped damages in medical negligence cases to a maximum of Rs. 1.5 crore, which is far less than what the Apex Court awarded to Anuradha’s husband for his wife’s death. While some states have imposed a “cap” against negligent doctors in USA but this “cap” or limit is only for “non-economic” damages which include damages for pain and suffering.
There is absolutely no “cap” or limit on “economic” damages (e.g. loss of salary) in compensation against doctors and hospitals anywhere in USA. In fact, courts in USA routinely award tens of millions of dollars for death from medical negligence. In a country like India with large number of poor and uneducated population, most victims of medical negligence perhaps do not even realize that they have fallen victim to wrong treatment. On the other hand, private hospitals force patients to pay exorbitant charges which are never audited by the inept government in India. Many families in India go bankrupt from a single ailment of their loved one. Should there be a “cap” on the limitless hospital charge in India? Will the caring doctors like Dr. Shetty or other leaders of IMA ever raise their voices in support of such a “cap” to help the vulnerable patients in India?
In a strange move which defies all logic and common sense, World Medical Association (WMA), an international medical group of doctors mostly from developing nations that has little recognition among doctors of developed countries, decided last month to lift ban on disgraced ex-MCI chief, Dr. Ketan Desai and reinstated him as the president-elect of this medical body because according to a “press release” posted on their website s(WWW.WMA.NET) on 19th October, 2013, WMA believed that Dr. Desai has proved to be an innocent man since all charges against him “have now been withdrawn at the request of the Indian prosecuting authority”.
The news that Dr. Desai was re-appointed as WMA president-elect was craftily manipulated by Dr. Desai and his cronies as it was published widely by many in the media last month. In fact, Dr. Desai himself boasted about his post of WMA president-elect and in an interview with Times of India (published October 27, 2013), Dr. Desai has claimed that as the WMA president, he will now expose Indian doctors to the “global healthcare” (see below). So, the most corrupt and tainted man in Indian medical history is now claiming to be the Messiah to rebuild the sagging image of Indian doctors.
But there was just one big problem with Dr. Desai’s recent spin-story. It is absolutely false information that all charges against Dr. Desai have been dropped by the Indian prosecuting authority, i.e. CBI. After PBT president Dr. Kunal Saha contacted CBI, they informed in writing that charge-sheet in the criminal case of bribery and corruption against Dr. Desai has already been filed and criminal trial would soon start in Delhi. The CBI also informed that not only in Delhi, criminal charges have also been filed against Dr. Desai in U.P. (Lucknow). In fact, CBI has stated that the claim made by Dr. Desai that all charges against him were withdrawn is nothing by an “eye wash”.
PBT wrote to present president of WMA, Dr. Margaret Mungherera from Uganda, on November 4, 2013 drawing her attention to the colossal error made by WMA (by lifting ban on Dr. Desai) based on false information and urged WMA to retract their lifting of ban against Dr. Desai immediately because it has sent wrong signal not only to the ordinary people of India but also to thousands of honest Indian doctors who are also appalled how a criminally indicted physician like Dr. Desai can pull a stunt on WMA that all charges against him were withdrawn by CBI. But even under this serious situation, WMA has remained silent and did not respond to PBT’s appeal for re-imposing ban on Dr. Desai. PBT has sent a reminder to WMA today and hope that the international medical leaders of WMA would come to their senses and take appropriate steps to fix their own blunder and reinstate ban against Dr. Desai without any further delay.
Only 17 days after Supreme Court delivered a historic judgment on “medical negligence” in Anuradha Saha death case in which her husband and PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, became the “living” victim, another physician, Dr. Easwaran lodged a complaint of gross medical negligence for the wrongful death of his father (see news in Business Standard below). Dr. Easwaran moved Madras High Court which passed an order directing the Tamil Nadu Medical Council to judge Dr. Easwaran on “merit” within six months and take action against the accused doctors for “criminal negligence”, if proved. Until now, medical councils in India have by and large functioned to shield the errant medical colleagues to maintain their hitherto “untouchable” status. It is a common knowledge that doctors in India do not come forward to testify truthfully against other delinquent doctors which has led to the present pitiful status of healthcare in India. The West Bengal Medical Council till today refused to take any disciplinary action against Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee, the principal culprit physician responsible for Anuradha Saha’s death, even after Apex Court and Medical Council of India (MCI) found him guilty for reckless practice of medicine and penalized him (and AMRI hospital and two other doctors) with the highest-ever compensation of Rs. 11 crore.
With unprecedented energy and hope for the hapless patients and countless victims of medical malpractice sweeping India for the past two weeks since delivery of the historic Anuradha Saha case judgment by Supreme Court, group of long-time PBT volunteers and supporters have organized a public awareness workshop on “medical negligence” cases and how to use Right to Information (RTIC) Act to extract maximum benefit for the victims and establish patients’ rights. The workshop will be held on Sunday (10th November) at No:13, Flat 1 D, Kalakshetra Road, Narthana Ganesh Apts, Thiruvanmiyur, Chennai 41.
Supreme Court of India delivered final verdict in the much publicized Anuradha Saha wrongful death case ten days ago – highest-ever compensation of about Rs. 11 crore (including interest) against a top Kolkata hospital (AMRI) and three senior Kolkata doctors including Dr. Sukumar Mukhrjee who still occupies the post of “chief adviser” in health for the Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal. But already enormous ripple effects are felt across India and far beyond. New York Times carried a long report on their world news this week with a title “A Landmark Turn in India’s Medical Negligence Law”. Even top international medical journal published from UK, British Medical Journal (BMJ), carried the story in their latest edition. But the news has swept coast to coast in India. Leaders of the influential medical lobby including Indian Medical Association (IMA) have started to cry foul and demanded that doctors and hospitals should be kept out of the ambit of Consumer Protection Act (CPA) even though this issue has been categorically settled by Supreme Court in 1995 in IMA vs. V.P. Shanta (AIR 1996 SC 550). Some medical leaders even claimed that a “cap” or limit in compensation must be fixed in “medical negligence” cases. Is there any “cap” on the exorbitant amount of money that private hospitals charges to the vulnerable patients? But ordinary people and countless victims of alleged medical negligence who have been waiting for years and decades for just find solace and a ray of hope in this historic judgment. Anuradha’s husband and PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, has also written a brief opinion on this judgment that has been carried in this week’s (Nov. 10) magazine “OUTLOOK” (link is provided below).
The historic judgment in Anuradha Saha case delivered last week by Supreme Court that has awarded a compensation of about Rs. 11 crore (including interest) against three senior Kolkata doctors (Sukumar Mukherjee, Baidyanath Halder and Balaram Prasad) and AMRI Hospital in Kolkata has generated a mixed feelings of glee and apprehension by different sectors of society. While millions of ordinary people and victims of alleged “medical negligence” across India have welcomed the verdict as they see for the first time a glimpse of hope that it may send a strong signal against “medical negligence” to the hitherto untouchable doctors and hospitals, most members of medical community and politically-backed leaders of Indian Medical Association (IMA) have started crying foul and some are claiming that there should be a “cap” of maximum compensation to be awarded in medical negligence cases. There are several important points of law that have been settled in this verdict which will go a long way to prevent future “medical negligence” and to improve the standard of healthcare in India. The 210-page judgment is pasted below. It is being analyzed in detail right now and we will post the salient features of this judgment in the near future.
On the wake of the historic judgment delivered by the Supreme Court on Thursday awarding by far the highest-ever compensation of about Rs. 11 crore (Rs. 6.08 crore plus 6% per year interest for the past almost 15 years) against AMRI Hospital and three senior Kolkata doctors (Sukumar Mukherjee, Baidyanath Halder and Balaram Prasad) for the negligent death of Anuradha Saha, an enormous optimism for justice has been generated around the country for the countless victims of medical negligence in India. Dr. Kunal Saha, PBT president and Anuradha’s husband, has called all conscientious people to join PBT in our future efforts to remove the deep-rooted corruption from the Indian medical system and build a negligence-free healthcare system. People can directly contact the telephone numbers listed under “Our People” to learn more about PBT.
In a historic judgment that may pave the way for better chance of justice for all victims of “medical negligence”, Supreme Court today awarded Rs. 6.04 crore plus interest at the rate of 6% since 1999 for the wrongful death of PBT president Dr. Kunal Saha’s wife, Anuradha Saha. Virtually the entire compensation has been imposed against the AMRI Hospital with small amount of compensation (between Rs. 5 and 10 lakh) against Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee, Dr. B.N. Halder and Dr. Balaram Prasad.
In an unprecedented act to silence public voice of protest against medical corruption, organizers of “Medicon International 2013″, a medical symposium scheduled to start in Kolkata on Oct. 19, 2013, moved a petition before Calcutta High Court seeking ban against any public demonstration during Medicon 2013. Justice Sanjeeb Banerjee of Calcutta High Court today refused to ban peaceful public rally of protest. The controversy starts when Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee, Kolkata-based senior doctor who is known across India for his conviction by the Supreme Court for medical negligence and who has also been penalized by the National Consumer Forum (NCDRC) to pay the highest compensation in Indian medico-legal history for causing death of Anuradha Saha, was selected as the president of Medicon 2013 seemingly to repair his tainted public image. The Medicon 2013 is also touting the name of Royal College of Physicians in London since some of their members are also participating in this conference. But after PBT’s president, Dr. Kunal Saha contacted the Royal College, their president informed that they had no knowledge about the tainted background of Dr. Mukherjee. PBT inviting all conscientious citizens and victims of medical negligence to attend this public rally at 12 Noon on Satruday in front of Hyatt Regency Hotel at Salt Lake, Kolkata where Medicon 2013 will be held.
Allegation of medical negligence has now surfaced in regard to the death of a highly-respected retired chief justice of India (CJI), J.S. Verma, who recently died in a private hospital. It is reported that wife of Justice Verma lodged a complaint with the prime minister’s office (PMO) seeking prime minister’s intervention to find justice for the wrongful death of her husband. Thirty-four eminent citizens including several senior advocates have also approached PMO seeking impartial investigation and justice for the departed ex-CJI. The prime minister has assured that responsibility will be fixed if it is found that Justice Verma died as a result of medical negligence. According to published reports, PMO has forwarded the complaint to the health ministry for a thorough investigation of this matter. PBT has also sent a memorandum to PMO seeking a transparent investigation and equitable justice for the unfortunate death of Justice Verma from alleged medical malpractice.