Dr. Ved Prakash Mishra, a tainted doctor and well-known crony of disgraced ex-MCI president, Dr. Ketan Desai, was recently selected as the chairman of the important “Academic Council” by the new MCI. This is the latest of the hosts of scandals exposed showing the firm grip that Dr. Desai has on the present MCI which was formed only a few months earlier. Dr. Mishra has been a long-time backer and close associate of Dr. Desai. He had been in MCI during most of the time of Ketan Desai era until MCI was dissolved in 2010 following the arrest of Dr. Desai. He also voted to make Dr. Desai MCI president in 2009. The corrupt nature of Dr. Mishra was fully exposed after CBI found him guilty for shady deals with construction companies as a member of the MCI “Building Committee” between 2000 and 2005. In fact, after a full investigation, CBI not only found Dr. Mishra guilty for his involvement with spurious building deals, but CBI also recommended “major penalty” against him (see CBI report below). But instead of any “major penalty”, the new MCI promoted him as the chairman of “Academic Council” and more shockingly, exonerated him from all charges labeled against him by the CBI in an Executive Committee meeting held on 18th February, 2014. PBT has lodged a formal complaint today with the Health Ministry seeking a full investigation of this sordid episode and demanding immediate removal of the Executive Committee members from MCI under Section 30A(2g) of “Indian Medical Council Amendment Ordinance, 2013″ since their action is clearly detrimental to public interest which is prohibited under Section 30A(2g). (see PBT’s letter to Health Ministry below)
At least 30 patients have died as a result of the recent “doctors’ strike” in Utter Pradesh (U.P.). PBT president Dr. Kunal Saha has written to the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India (CJI) today seeking his urgent intervention to end the “doctors’ strike” (see letter below). While PBT appreciates the grievances of the striking doctors and denounces the high-handed attitude of the political leaders in U.P., innocent patients cannot be held ransom to settle doctors’ score with the government. In 2006, Apex Court held that “doctors’ strike” may amount to “professional misconduct” in response to PIL filed by PBT (W.P. Civil No. 316/2006). More recently, PBT filed another PIL in the Supreme Court seeking a ban on the 1-day long nation-wide “doctors’ strike” called by Indian Medical Association (IMA) on June 25, 2012 (W.P. Civil No. 253/2012). The Apex Court has already issued notice against IMA and expressed that they “expect that doctors not to resort to any such method (strike)”. This PIL against “doctors’ strike” has been listed for next hearing on April 14, 2014.
An official letter written by former health secretary, Mr. Keshav Desiraju, who was removed from Health Ministry last month by health minister Mr. Gulam Nabi Azad has revealed that Mr. Azad was not happy with Mr. Desiraju’s concerns about return of disgraced ex-MCI president, Dr. Ketan Desai and his cronies to the highest medical regulatory authority in India (MCI). A Times Now expose’ has shown the letter today clearly suggesting that Mr. Azad did not appreciate opposition to the return of Dr. Desai or his medical cronies back to MCI as expressed by Mr. Desiraju which possibly resulted in his abrupt transfer out of the health ministry.
PBT has been fighting relentlessly against Dr. Desai, his cronies and wide-spread corruption in the healthcare delivery system at various levels since its inception in 2001. In fact, snce Dr. Desai was caught red-handed by CBI while taking bribe from a private medical college in 2010, PBT is the only organization that have filed several lawsuits in Gujarat High Court and Supreme Court of India in order to stop Dr. Desai and his cronies to return to MCI. Unfortunately, many of Dr. Desai’s cronies have recently been re-nominated to the newly formed MCI – thanks to the implicit support by the health ministry. Mr. Azad and his ministry have also remained absolutely silent to the repeated appeals filed by PBT against the ongoing atrocity in MCI which includes re-nomination of at least 17 tainted doctors to the MCI who are known to be closely associated with Dr. Desai.
But it is not just the UPA government, BJP-led Narendra Modi government has also come to the rescue of corrupt Dr. Desai. The top BJP leader and prominent attorney, Mr. Arun Jaitley, had previously defended Dr. Desai in court against charges of corruption. Ironically, the Modi government in Gujarat has not only reinstated Dr. Desai as head of Urology in B.J. Medical College in Ahmedabad even with a suspended medical license and while Desai is still facing criminal trial for bribery and corruption, Gujarat Government has also helped Dr. Desai to get re-nominated to the MCI from Gujarat University ignoring repeated appeals from PBT. A public interest litigation (PIL), filed by PBT, is currently pending in Gujarat High Court which after Modi Government refused to take any step to remove Dr. Desai from Gujarat University Senate.
A major victory for all consumers and victims of “medical negligence” was achieved today (Feb. 24) in the Supreme Court as the “Contempt” petition filed by PBT against National Consumer Forum (NCDRC) was disposed of by the division bench of Justices Mr. T.S. Thakur and Mr. C. Nagappan (SC Contempt Petition No. 158/2002; People for Better Treatment vs. H.D. Nautiyal, Registrar, NCDRC) with specific observations that from now on, non-advocates and humanitarian organizations like PBT would be able to represent victims of medical negligence and other victims of deceptive trade practice in NCDRC and other Consumer Courts across India. New specific guidelines for accreditation of non-advocate/representative/NGO who may represent justice-seekers in the Consumer Courts have been posted on the “Consumer Affairs Ministry” website at (see below)
PBT filed this “Contempt” petition in 2012 after NCDRC remained silent even after the Apex Court passed a judgment in 2011 to frame new guidelines allowing benevolent social organizations and non-advocates to represent consumers including victims of medical negligence. As a result of our “Contempt” petition, NCDRC has framed new guidelines now as it becomes law from 17th February, 2014 with its publication in government’s official Gazette.
Many victims of “medical negligence” are victimized for a second time by unscrupulous lawyers who deliberately stalls the process of justice only to extract more money from the victim or even worse, surreptitiously join hands with the accused doctor/hospital in order to deny justice. Many competent volunteers in PBT will now be accredited by NCDRC and be able to help hapless victims of “medical negligence” find justice in the court of law. PBT president, Kunal Saha, a medical doctor based in USA who has personally appeared to argue many important public interest litigations (PILs) as well as personal cases in High Courts and Supreme Court including the recent case for his wife’s wrongful death in which Apex Court has awarded highest compensation (Rs. 11.5 crore) for “medical negligence”, has expressed that he would also get accredited himself from NCDRC now to help other victims of alleged “medical negligence” by appearing on their behalf in Consumer Courts in India.
In a remarkable demonstration of intolerance against medical negligence, New Jersey medical board (akin to state medical council in India) has unanimously decided to revoke the medical registration of an anesthetist, Dr. Richard Kaul, for doing surgery without proper education and training as reported in British Medical Journal (BMJ 2014, vol. 348). The New Jersey board held Dr. Kaul guilty for “professional misconduct” and “dishonesty”. Interestingly, the patients that Dr. Kaul operated upon did not die from the surgery but medical regulatory body in New Jersey found Dr. Kaul’s act dangerous as it “put the public at grave risk” because he was trained as an anesthesiologist and not a surgeon. Ironically, Dr. Kaul is originally from UK but lost his medical license there after he was convicted for manslaughter for causing death of a patient (see news below). Could we ever imagine such proactive stance from our doctor-leaders in the medical councils to protect the hapless patients in India?
A hugely benevolent and direct effect of the historic judgment passed last October by Supreme Court awarding over Rs. 11.5 crore against several senior doctors and AMRI Hospital in Kolkata for Anuradha Saha’s death from “medical negligence” has been reflected in a big way for the first time as the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) has awarded an unprecedented compensation of more than three crore rupees (Rs. 3,01,48,195/-) plus 9% interest since 2003 against OTIS Elevator Company for causing death of a young officer who died due to a faulty Lift which crushed him in Delhi back in 2003 (see NCDRC judgment below). This momentous judgment was passed by a division bench of NCDRC on 21st January, 2014.
While this was not a case involving “medical negligence”, the principles used by NCDRC to award this huge compensation for a victim of negligent death who was Indian resident were solely based on Apex Court judgment in Anuradha’s case. The principles as set in Anuradha’s case by the Supreme Court last October must now be used, perhaps even more effectively, on all cases of “medical negligence” that are pending in different Consumer Courts across India. This will undoubtedly bring a new ray of hope for equitable justice to all victims of “medical negligence” and is also likely to have a strong deterrent effect on reckless practice of medicine by many Indian doctors/hospitals.
The unprecedented principles of law that were settled by Supreme Court in Anuradha’s case and were followed in the judgment delivered last month by NCDRC include:
1) Compensation for loss of future potential income: The compensation by NCDRC was NOT based on the actual income of the deceases at the time of death, but calculated considering young age and future potential of promotion and increased income.
2) The “multiplier system” cannot be used for negligent death. The compensation by NCDRC was calculated NOT in accordance to the “multiplier system” that has been routinely used for calculating compensation from negligent death until Anuradha’s judgment by the Supreme Court.
3) Compensation awarded is enhanced during final argument and eventual award was even more than the original claim: The compensation was significantly enhanced by NCDRC only during final argument. In fact, the victim initially claimed a compensation of only Rs. 1.89 crore. But only during final argument, he enhanced the claim to Rs. 3.01 crore solely on the basis of the principles laid down by Apex Court in Anuradha’s judgment. Although the opposite parties objected to this enhanced claim, NCDRC granted 100% of the enhanced claim and awarded a compensation of Rs. 3.01 crore plus 9% interest for the last more than 10 years.
This NCDRC judgment should go a long way to help all victims of “medical negligence” who have been waiting for their day of justice after losing their loved one at the hands of hitherto “untouchable” doctors/hospitals. From now on, compensation for death of a child or student (with no actual income) from “medical negligence” would be calculated considering future prospect of the deceased which could easily be in multi-crore rupees.
In yet another blatant move by the dubious central health ministry, Mr. Keshav Desiraju, a well-known and upright Secretary in the health department was transferred by the health minister. The question is “why”? When the entire healthcare system is reeling under allegations of wide-spread incompetence and corruption with public discontent growing day by day, why the health ministry decided to shift one of its rare honest high-rank officials out of the health department? Reportedly, Mr. Desiraju has been an obstacle on the way for disgraced ex-MCI chief, Dr. Ketan Desai, to return to MCI.
Published report in “Daily Pioneer” (see below) has claimed that Mr. Desiraju was removed from the health ministry for his role to initiate action to remove 17 tainted newly elected/nominated MCI members all of whom are known cronies of Dr. Desai and voted to elect Dr. Desai as MCI president in 2009. Ironically, PBT lodged the complaint with the health ministry last year against these 17 new MCI members with tainted history seeking their removal under law because their presence in MCI was detrimental to public interest. Despite Dr. Desiraju’s willingness to take action in this matter, the health ministry has remained absolutely silent until now. PBT is planning to move the court of law against these atrocities by the health ministry. PBT president Dr. Kunal Saha also wrote to Prime Minister yesterday urging him to intervene in this reckless act by the health ministry and demanding that Mr. Desiraju be brought back to the health department (see below).
Order passed on 30th January, 2014 by Supreme Court division bench of Justice Mr. C.K. Prasad and Justice Mr. V. Gopala Gowda in the historic “medical negligence” case for the wrongful death of Anuradha Saha was posted in SC website today (attached below). According to this order, Kolkata-based AMRI Hospital must pay Rs. 2 crore by Thursday (February 6) and remaining about Rs. 7.5 crore (out of total compensation of about Rs. 11.5 crore including interest) within another 2 months period. The hospital had earlier sought one year extra time to pay the compensation because of “financial hardship” while Anuradha’s husband, Dr. Kunal Saha, filed a “contempt” against AMRI hospital for failure to pay the compensation on time. Apex Court has kept the “contempt” petition pending with next hearing date on 5th May, 2014. The order by SC sends a strong signal that doctors/hospitals found guilty for “medical negligence” cannot frustrate the victims by delaying payment of compensation on one ground or another.
A special bench of Justices Mr. C.K. Prasad and Mr. V. Gopala Gowda in Supreme Court today rejected plea by AMRI Hospital who had sought 1 year extra time to pay the highest-ever compensation of more than Rs. 11.5 crore for the wrongful death of Anuradha Saha who died from gross medical negligence by three senior Kolkata doctors (Sukumar Mukherjee, Bsidyanath Halder and Balaram Prasad) and AMRI Hospital in Kolkata with bulk of the compensation was imposed against the hospital. The Apex Court rejected AMRI’s plea and ordered the hospital to play to pay Rs. 1.6 crore today and they must pay the rest about Rs. 10 crore within a period of two and half months. The AMRI Hospital has already paid Rs. 1.6 crore today and rest of the compensation must be paid within the next 2.5 months. Interestingly, Apex Court also kept a “contempt” petition filed by Anuradha’s husnband and PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha and directed that the “contempt” against AMRI Board of Directors will be listed on 5th May, 2014 indicating that if the hospital fails to pay the entire compensation within next 2.5 months, they may be held for “contempt” of the Supreme Court.
The development in the Apex Court today should bring new hope for all victims of “medical negligence” who are waiting for their day of justice in the court. It also sends a strong signal to the negligent doctors/hospitals that they will be held accountable for their misdeeds and that they cannot get away from justice by delaying tactics using inherent flaws in the justice delivery system. Ironically, Indian Medical Association (IMA) has also filed a “Review” petition in this matter seeking a “cap” (limit) in the amount of compensation against the errant doctors and hospitals although it is not clear how a doctors’ group like IMA may have any legal standing in this litigation between a victim of medical negligence and a private hospital.
In a shocking display of evil power of political influence and wealth, Dr. C.V. Bhirmanandam, MCI Vice-president and a well-known backer of disgraced ex-MCI chief Dr. Ketan Desai, threatened a young woman who was working as the coordinator of the newly opened PBT branch in Chennai forcing the volunteer to quit PBT out of fear of retaliation. Ironically, the reason of Dr. Bhirmanandam’s intense ire toward PBT had absolutely nothing to do with the volunteer because he was upset after PBT president Dr. Kunal Saha lodged a complaint with central health ministry in a letter dated 13th January, 2014 urging the government to remove Dr. Bhirmanandam from the coveted post of MCI Vice-president since he allegedly issued a false medical certificate to help a jailed political leader, T.T.V. Dhinakaran to be transferred to a hospital in order to avoid the harsh environment of the prison (see letter sent to health ministry below). Mr. Dhinakaran is presently a member of Parliament (M.P.) from the state of Tamil Nadu.
While Dr. Bhirmanandam may feel aggrieved with the complaint lodged by Dr. Saha and as a citizen of the largest democracy of the world, he has every right to approach any court for civil or criminal prosecution of Dr. Saha, he has absolutely no right to threaten or bully an innocent PBT worker who was merely volunteering her service to help the victims of medical negligence in Chennai and surrounding areas. No language is harsh enough to criticize this deplorable act by Dr. Bhirmanandam. With the rapidly declining public trust on the medical community and abysmally low level of doctor-patient relationship today, we urge all honest and conscientious doctors to raise their voice against the shameful act of Dr. Bhirmanandam.
While Indian Medical Association (IMA) and Association of Healthcare Providers of India (AHPI) leaders including Dr. Devi Shetty who is also the chairman of Narayana Health (a hospital chain) have started criticizing the historic Supreme Court judgment in Anuradha Saha death case and clamoring in demand of a “cap” (limited amount of compensation) to protect the negligent doctors and hospitals with baseless assertion that such a “cap” exists to protect doctors in USA (click this link http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/companies/doctors-seek-cap-on-malpractice-compensation/article5606423.ece to read the news), Anuradha’s husband and PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha gave two separate interviews explaining the real purpose of his long-drawn legal fight in India and how he sees the future of healthcare in India which depends on the “good” doctors to step forward to fight the wide-spread medical corruption to restore public trust and to save innocent patients’ lives. The two interviews, “Corruption in Medicine: The Good Doctor Fights Back” (click this link http://www.governancenow.com/news/regular-story/corruption-medicine-good-doctor-fights-back ) and “Anuradha’s Case has Fueled Public Interest in Patients’ Rights” (click this link http://www.goimonitor.com/story/anuradhas-case-has-fueled-public-interest-patients-rights ) to read the full stories (also attached below).
PBT has obtained documents showing that Indian Medical Association (IMA) moved an application with World Medical Association (WMA) claiming that disgraced ex-MCI chief, Dr. Ketan Desai, should be reinstated as WMA president because all charges against him have been dropped by the Indian authority. Dr. Desai had plundered medical education and healthcare delivery system as MCI president until he was trapped by CBI in 2010 for taking bribe from a private medical college. Using his sinister influence, Dr. Desai also managed to become WMA president-elect in 2009 but his election was suspended after he was nabbed by CBI in 2010. While free on bail, Dr. Desai is still waiting for his trial to begin for serious charges of bribery and corruption.
But in October 2013, WMA lifted the suspension against Dr. Desai and reinstated him as WMA president-elect because according to their information, all charges against Dr. Desai had been dropped by the Indian authority (CBI). There was only one problem – this information was not true as serious charges for bribery and corruption against Dr. Desai are still pending in CBI criminal courts in different cities across India.
But who was behind the spread of such brazen lies to help Dr. Desai? According to World Medical Journal (published by WMA), one Dr. Ajay Kumar from Patna, ex-IMA president and long-time close associate of Dr. Desai, appeared before WMA last year and submitted an application from IMA pleading on behalf of Dr. Desai by making a false claim that all charges against Dr. Desai were dropped and as such, he should be reinstated as WMA president (see page 52 in the World Medical Journal attached below). Following this submission by Dr. Kumar, WMA decided to reinstate Dr. Desai to the post of president-elect in October, 2013. The news glorifying Dr. Desai as the WMA president-elect was highly publicized by the media which sent a wrong message to the public at large and brought shame to all doctors of India.
PBT has sent an urgent memorandum today to CBI Director, Mr. Ranjit Sinha, urging him to take immediate steps to prosecute Dr. Kumar and other IMA leaders who were responsible for spreading the false information only to help Dr. Desai and sway the course of justice. Ironically, Dr. Kumar was “nominated” last year by the government to become a member of the newly formed MCI and even more shocking, he is also a member of the present MCI Ethics Committee that has the bounden duty to decide complaints of medical negligence and ethical violation by the delinquent Indian doctors.
In yet another despicable display of evidence of corruption in Indian healthcare system, PBT obtained document (under RTI Act) showing that the newly elected MCI Vice-president, Dr. Bhirmanandam, was previously found guilty for unethical act to help a top political leader in Tamil Nadu. According to the information obtained from state health department, Dr. Bhirmanandam, a cardiologist, recommended one Mr. T.T.V. Dhinakaran, a leader of the AIADMK party who was in jail for alleged violation of the “Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act, 1974 (Cofeposa Act, 1974) to be transferred to a hospital on medical ground in order to avoid the harsh prison environment by issuing a false medical certificate (attached below). Ironically, Mr. Dhinakaran is presently a Member of Parliament (M.P.) from Tamil Nadu.
The “Indian Medical Council Amendment Ordinance, 2013″ under which MCI was re-established last month has a new provision that any member whose inclusion in the council may undermine public interest should be removed from MCI. Inclusion of an unethical physician like Dr. Bhirmanandam as MCI Vice-president is likely to further erode public trust on doctors. PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, has submitted an urgent appeal with the Health Minister today seeking immediate removal of Dr. Bhirmanandam from MCI under the new law (see below). Ironically, Dr. Bhirmanandm was also a member of the last MCI which was disbanded in 2010 on charges of corruption and he also voted to elect disgraced Dr. Ketan Desai to become MCI president in 2009.
PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, met Delhi health minister of AAP party, Mr. Satyendra Kumar Jain, yesterday urging him to take action against the pervasive corruption in Medical Council of India (MCI) and Delhi State Medical Council (DMC) to improve healthcare delivery system and to prevent pervasive medical negligence. After the meeting with the health minister, PBT held a huge public candlelight vigil at Jantar Mantar where victims of medical negligence and PBT leaders including Dr. Saha participated. Members of AAP party also joined the public rally at Jantar Mantar and vouched to join hands in cleansing the deep-rooted corruption in the MCI and state medical councils and to bring expedited justice for all victims of medical negligence. (see news below)
After Delhi, Chennai and Hyderabad, PBT is set to open a new support center for ordinary people and victims of medical negligence in Ahmedabad. PBT president Dr. Kunal Saha will host a seminar at conference center of Pride Hotel at 3 PM on Saturday, January 4, 2013 where the latest PBT branch will be inaugurated. Ironically, Ahmedabad is the hometown of disgraced ex-MCI chief, Dr. Ketan Desai, who along with his numerous cronies are still trying regain control of the healthcare regulatory system in India. The recent botched MCI election in which president, vice-president and other important MCI committee members were elected is another glaring example of evil influence of Dr. Desai on Indian medical system. While still facing serious criminal charges for bribery and corruption, Dr. Desai has also been elected a new MCI member from Gujarat University. However, PBT has already challenged the MCI election and notices have already been issued by Calcutta HC. These and other issues involving medical negligence will be the central topic of discussion in the program in Ahmedabad on January 4. You may contact PBT coordinator in Ahmedabad, Mr. Ravish Bhatt at 9898550411 for more information about the Ahmedabad program. Admissions open.