Justice Mr. Shekhar Saraf at Calcutta HC has passed a historic order today and admitted PBT’s challenge (vide W.P. No. 124/2018) against the State Information Commission for not allowing an RTI application seeking information from SSKM Hospital about medical records of top leader of the ruling Trinomul party, Mr. Madan Mitra, who avoided staying in jail (after CBI arrest in the Saradha Chit Fund Scam in 2015) on medical ground using his political influence. Ironically, after spending several months in a private comfortable hospital cabin in Kolkata when he was supposed to be in jail as his application for bail was rejected on several occasions, Mr. Mitra was declared fit by the same doctors moments after his bail application was eventually allowed by the court. PBT had sought the medical information for bigger public interest to have the records verified by independent medical experts to prove or disprove whether the doctors at SSKM hospital gave false medical certificate only to help the influential political leader. The SSKM Hospital refused to provide information about Mr. Madan Mitra to cover up alleged corruption and issuance of false medical certificate by doctors who were involved with Mr. Mitra’s treatment. This new writ petition has also sought financial compensation from the W.B. Information Commission for the loss PBT suffered as PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha had traveled all the way from USA to argue this case before the Information Commission last December but the hearing was not conducted by the State Information Commission
Division bench of Chief Justice Mr. Jyotirmay Bhattacharyya and Justice Mr. Arijit Banerjee at Calcutta High Court issued notice today on a Contempt of court petition filed by PBT against West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) president, Dr. Nirmal Maji and registrar, Mr. Manas Chakraborty for their failure to comply with a previous order passed by the same bench in a pending PIL against “doctors’ strike”. Earlier in January 2018, PBT moved a PIL against inaction by the state medical council to prevent “doctors’ strike” in spite of categorical direction from the Apex Court that doctors have no right to go on strike and disrupt hospital services. The Apex Court also held (in another PIL filed by PBT in 2012) that in case of doctors’ strike, medical council must take appropriate disciplinary action against the striking doctors as stipulated under MCI Codes. While admitting the PIL against “doctors’ strike” last January, Calcutta HC also directed WBMC that they must take necessary measures to assure that all doctors are in compliance with the MCI Code of Ethics & Regulations. The Contempt petition was moved by PBT after WBMC failed to take any steps to assure that all doctors are in compliance with the provisions in the MCI Codes. The court has given 4 weeks time for service and this unprecedented “Contempt” case against the sitting president and registrar of WBMC will come up for final hearing after 6 weeks.
Leaders of Indian Medical Association (IMA) and other medical groups met with Bengal chief minister, Mamata Banerjee today with a list of demands including increased security and harsher punishment for any unruly behavior or attacks on doctors on part of anybody who may lose momentary control after witnessing death of their loved one due to gross medical negligence, real or perceived. The Bengal government has already passed a draconian state law (Prevention of Violence and Damage of Property Act) under which anyone threatening or showing semblance of any violent behavior toward the hospital or doctor following death of their loved one from reckless therapy will be arrested under non-bailable arrest warrant and put in jail for three years. Wilting under pressure from the powerful medical groups, chief minister has promised even tougher treatment for the patient-party if they break down and shows any unruly behavior toward our healers or hospitals.
PBT has always denounced doctor bashing or hospital vandalism under any condition, even in the event of genuine incidence of death from medical negligence because two wrongs can never make a right. However, PBT has also repeatedly pleaded before the government and IMA that in order to eradicate the rare but unfortunate incidences of physical assaults on doctors, it is important to appreciate the underlying “real” cause of attacks on doctors and to think why even the most peace-loving and law-abiding citizen occasionally breaks down and takes law into his own hands after seeing his loved one suffer horrific death as a result of negligence and uncaring treatment. Our medical and political leaders need to ponder as to why nobody in developed countries like UK and USA can ever imagine patient-party attacking doctor after losing their loved one due to medical malpractice. It is only because ordinary people in these countries have trust on the medical justice delivery system and know that the errant doctors would receive harsh punishment by the medical council as well as judiciary if they were involved with “medical negligence” or unethical behavior. The picture is exactly opposite in India as medical councils primarily work only to shield their errant medical colleagues without caring for the lives of the defenseless patients. Until the deeply flawed medical regulatory system in India is completely revamped and the corrupt doctor-members are replaced with honest and compassionate doctors to give justice to the victims of medical negligence, unfortunate incidence of doctor bashing is likely to continue in India. PBT has submitted a memorandum to Bengal CM expressing concerns and these obvious reasons (see below).
The Calcutta High Court has remained virtually non-functional for the past almost one month due to a strike called by the High Court Bar Association in demand of appointment of more judges in the vacant positions. While the point that all positions of judges in the highest court in the state should be filled to prevent backlog of huge number of pending cases, boycott of court proceedings for week after week has made the suffering of the innocent justice-seekers only worse as cases are simply adjourned by the judges everyday. PBT has also suffered due to this mindless strike called by the leaders of the Bar Association as an important PIL, ironically filed against “doctors’ strike”, has been delayed indefinitely.
In a historic judgment by a Constitution bench in Common Cause v. Union of India & Anr. (2006 SCC 9, 295), Supreme Court of India categorically held that “Lawyers have no right to go on strike or give a call for boycott, not even on a token strike………And in case any Association calls for a strike or a call for boycott, the concerned State Bar Council and on their failure, Bar Court of India must immediately take disciplinary action against the Advocates who give call for a strike“. In view of this unequivocal direction by the Apex Court and in order to stop this unlawful advocates strike in Kolkata, PBT has lodged a formal complaint with the West Bengal Bar Council seeking immediate disciplinary action against the Bar Association leaders for calling the strike to bring an end to this endless pain and suffering for the countless litigants and justice-seekers in Kolkata.
Supreme Court of India has passed a landmark judgment legalizing “passive euthanasia” or “living will” so that life-support may be removed from permanently unconscious or terminally ill patients who are suffering from painful incurable diseases like end stage cancer or AIDS to let me die in a quick and dignified way. The concept of “living will” to allow a more dignified death is not new in most Western countries. Indian Apex Court has now agreed that “right to life” which is guaranteed under Article 21 of Indian Constitution should also include the right to have a rapid, painless and dignified death. The Apex Court has said that in order to enhance death by withdrawal of life-support from an unconscious patient suffering from an irreversible medical condition, treating physician and doctors of a “medical board”, in consultation with patient’s family, must first agree that the patient is afflicted with a truly “irreversible” disease and recommend “passive euthanasia”. A judge then evaluate the case and must approve before the life-support can be removed to induce a rapid and dignified death. While we should welcome this historic judgment by the Supreme Court paving the way for a more quick and painless death because nobody deserves to suffer a slow and agonizing death, PBT has raised the concern about the possibility of grave abuse of this process by unscrupulous doctors and patient’s family leading to the induction of a wrongful and premature death of an unconscious patient (read PBT president Dr. Kunal Saha’s article on this published in Hindu Business Online at the link https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/specials/pulse/sc-judgement-on-living-will-places-an-enormous-responsibility-in-doctors-hands/article23274337.ece; also attached below).
West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) President and Trinoomul MLA, Dr. Nirmal Maji, surrendered today before the court of Ld. Metropolotian Magistrate, Mr. Debashis Panja, in Bankshall Court (Case No. CNS/415/17; Dr. Kunal Saha vs. Dr. Nirmal Maji & Anr.) to face criminal charges filed against him under Indian Penal Code (IPC) Section 120b (“criminal conspiracy”), Section 500 (“criminal defamation”) and Section 501 (“engraving defamatory matter”) for each of which, if convicted, Dr. Maji may be imprisoned for up to two years. Dr. Maji personally appeared in the court today and was released on a Rs. 1000/- bail plus one surity until the next hearing fixed on 10th April, 2018.
This historic and unprecedented criminal case emerged from Dr. Maji’s brazen attempt to dialyze his pet dog using the dialysis machine at SSKM Hospital where thousands of patients undergo dialysis in the most reckless manner using political influence in 2015. After PBT lodged a complaint against Dr. Maji with the Medical Council of India (MCI) seeking cancellation of his medical registration for his unethical conduct, MCI directed WBMC to investigate and take appropriate disciplinary action against Dr. Maji within three months vide an order dated 4th November, 2017. Following publication of this MCI Order, Dr. Maji made slanderous and overtly defamatory remarks against PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, in the media including that PBT was formed by Dr. Saha only to make financial profit from the victims of medical negligence. It is well-known that since its inception in 2001, PBT has never taken any money from anyone for helping the victims of medical negligence or other purposes.
Dr. Saha first sent a legal notice to Dr. Maji asking him to apologize and retract his baseless personal comments but the Trinomul MLA refused to apologize or retract his comments. During his last trip to India in December, 2017, Dr. Saha personally appeared in the court to lodge this historic criminal case against WBMC president. Two other witnesses were also examined by the court on 31st January, 2018 in support of Dr. Saha’s petition as court took cognizance and issued processes/summons against Dr. Maji for which he appeared and surrendered before the court today. Dr. Maji now stands indicted for criminal offence under several sections of IPC. PBT wonders whether a criminally indicted doctor can continue to work as the head of a state medical council or remain as an MLA until he is exonerated from all charges?
A new contempt of court petition was filed in Calcutta High Court against West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) president, Dr. Nirmal Maji and Registrar for violating court’s previous order passed in response to PBT’s public interest litigation (PIL) against “doctors’ strike”. On January 5, Calcutta HC division bench presided by the acting chief justice passed an order directing WBMC to assure that all doctors are in compliance to the MCI Code of Ethics & Regulations, 2002 that stipulated that doctors cannot refuse treatment when a patient is in need of medical intervention. The court also directed WBMC to file response affidavit within 2 weeks time. More than a month later, WBMC did not take any steps to assure compliance of doctors and they also did not file any response affidavit as directed by the court. So, PBT filed a contempt petition against WBMC president and registrar and the matter was mentioned before the court today. The court has directed that this unprecedented contempt case will be heard on Thursday (February 15, 2018)
Ld. Magistrate in Bankshall Criminal Court in Kolkata examined two witnesses and issued processes under Indian Penal Code (IPC) Section 120b (“criminal conspiracy”), 500 (“criminal defamation”) and 501 (“printing defamatory matters”) against West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) president and Trinomul MLA, Dr. Nirmal Maji and editor of a newspaper in Kolkata. This historic and unprecedented was filed last month by PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, following a public outburst against Dr. Saha by WBMC president in a popular Bengali newspaper because PBT had lodged a complaint with MCI against Dr. Maji who hatched a plan to use the dialysis machine of a tertiary state-run premier hospital (SSKM Hospital) to perform dialysis of Dr. Maji’s pet dog that could have posed serious danger to the thousands of patients who undergo dialysis at the SSKM Hospital. MCI had directed the state medical council to investigate and take appropriate disciplinary action against the WBMC president for his unethical and dangerous conduct. While issuing summons against Dr. Maji, court has fixed 7th March, 2018 for next hearing when Dr. Maji will have to appear before the criminal court.
Bankshall Court in Kolkata took cognizance of a criminal case filed by PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha under IPC Sections 120b (criminal conspiracy), 500 and 501 (criminal defamation) against sitting president of West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC), Dr. Nirmal Maji. This unprecedented criminal case emerged from an appeal lodged by PBT with the MCI against Dr. Maji seeking cancellation of his medical registration after WBMC president planned to dialysis a pet dog in the machine at a tertiary government hospital (SSKM Hospital in Kolkata) using extraneous influence that could have posed serious danger to countless patients who visit SSKM hospital for dialysis everyday. After news was published that MCI had directed the state medical council to investigate and take action against Dr. Maji within a period of 3 months, Dr. Maji started personal attacks and made defamatory comments against PBT and Dr. Saha. A criminal case was lodged against Dr. Maji during Dr. Saha’s trip to India last month. Two new witnesses are scheduled to testify on behalf of PBT and Dr. Saha before the judicial magistrate at Bankshall Court in Kolkata on Wednesday (January 31, 2018). Each of the IPC Section filed against the WBMC president carries a maximum of 2 years of imprisonment, if convicted.
Mamata Banerjee-led Bengal government established a Health Commission last year claiming that the Commission will investigate all complaints of “medical negligence” in a fair and transparent manner. But the senior most medical member selected for this Health Commission is Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee, well-known for his role in causing death of Anuradha Saha from gross medical negligence in the historic case of highest-ever compensation awarded by the Supreme Court a few years ago. The Apex Court not only held Dr. Mukherjee as the most culprit doctor responsible for Anuradha’s death, court also made scathing criticism of Dr. Mukherjee’s character holding him as “unbecoming of a doctor” and that he has brought “utmost disrespect to the medical profession”. But shockingly, Dr. Mukherjee was chosen by the Bengal government to judge allegations of “medical negligence” against all doctors in the state.
PBT challenged nomination of Dr. Mukherjee as a judge in the Health Commission because of his tainted background and also because this act undermines sanctity of the Hon’ble Apex Court in clear violation of Article 144 of Indian Constitution that mandates that all civil and judicial bodies in India must act in aid of Supreme Court. PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, personally appeared before Calcutta High Court last year to argue this PIL on behalf of PBT. After the matter was posted for further hearing this year, Dr. Saha appealed that he may be allowed to appear and argue this matter through “live” videoconferencing from his place of permanent in USA. The HC allowed his appeal and further hearing of this historic PIL started last week when Dr. Saha appeared through videoconferencing from his residence in Columbus, Ohio and argued this matter before a division bench of Justices Mr. Sanjib Banerjee and Mr. Sabyasachi Bhattacharyya. The PIL hearing will continue through videoconferencing for final argument on Tuesday, January 30.
PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, traveled to India and appeared before the National Consumer Forum (NCDRC)last week to argue separate cases of “medical negligence” on behalf of 4 victims who came to PBT seeking justice after losing their loved one from alleged act of medical malpractice. In response to a PIL moved by PBT, Supreme Court of India permitted non-advocates and NGOs to argue as authorized-representative (A/R) in medical negligence cases to help the victims of medical and/or ethical malpractice by doctors and hospitals. In 2009 and 2013, Dr. Saha himself argued the historic case involving his wife’s (Anuradha Saha) wrongful death before the Apex Court and won the highest ever compensation (Rs. 11.5 crore) award against several senior doctors and AMRI hospital in Kolkata. Ever since, Dr. Saha has frequently traveled to India and argued before the Supreme Court and High Courts across India in many important public interest litigations (PILs) against medical corruption and also individual cases of medical negligence. Although while allowing non-advocates to argue before consumer courts, Supreme Court also directed that non-advocates and NGOs may accept up to 25% of the compensation awarded to the victims as service expenses with prior approval from the court, PBT and Dr. Saha have been working and helping the victims of medical negligence completely free of cost. In all 4 cases that Dr. Saha argued before the NCDRC last week including a major case against the Apollo Gleneagles Hospital in Kolkata (seeking compensation of almost Rs. 6 crore), court accepted all complaints prima facie and issued against the accused doctors/hospital (see news below),
PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, testified before Metropolitian Magistrate, Debashis Panja, yesterday in the Bankshall Criminal Court in Kolkata telling that after PBT lodged a complaint with the MCI against Dr. Nirmal Maji, Trinomul MLA and president of West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC), for using his political influence to perform his pet dog’s dialysis at SSKM Hospital, a premier state-run hospital in Kolkata, WBMC president made false and slanderous claim that Dr. Saha has been “cheating” victims of medical negligence through PBT. Maji also threatened Dr. Saha that the state council may cancel license of Dr. Saha who is originally a doctor from Kolkata and registered with WBMC.
Dr. Saha sent a legal notice to Dr. Maji asking him for unconditional apology for making the baseless and defamatory comments. Since Maji did not respond, Dr. Saha lodged a criminal complaint against Maji who has been charged for “criminal defamation” (IPC Section 499/500) and “criminal conspiracy” (IPC Section 120b). The court took cognizance of this unprecedented criminal case against a politically powerful medical council president and testimony started yesterday. The court has fixed January 31 for the next date of hearing when more witnesses will be produced against Dr. Maji. Each of these criminal charges against Maji carries imprisonment for a period of 2 years.
An unprecedented civil suit was filed last week by PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, in Calcutta High Court demanding Rs. 100 crore compensation from the West Bengal government for failure to take any steps against the defamatory statements made by then Justice G.C. De who, while dismissing Anuradha Saha wrongful death case and acquitting all accused doctors in 2004, made blatantly slanderous and false claim that Anuradha died due to “interference” and wrong treatment by her husband. In 2009, Supreme Court not only held all accused doctors responsible for Anuradha’s death but also severely criticized Justice De for making “irresponsible accusations” against Dr. Saha.
After moving a “criminal defamation” case against retired Justice De in 2011, Calcutta High Court directed that the proper “authority”, not any private citizen, may take action for wrongful act against any judge. Dr. Saha then approach the West Bengal Legal Authority (Legal Rememberencer) for taking appropriate action in this matter in view of the Calcutta High Court and Apex Court’s observations but despite repeated pleas, Bengal Law department remained absolutely silent. Thus, this new civil suit seeking compensation of Rs. 100 crore was filed by Dr. Saha against the state government for causing mental trauma and defamation. However, Dr. Saha has given a written undertaking in the same petition that if and when Dr. Saha wins, he will not take a single rupee from this award and the entire money will be donated for public awareness against judicial impropriety and to help victims of medical negligence in India (see news in Statesman below).
The most notorious medical man in India, Dr. Ketan Desai, was caught red-handed by CBI in April, 2010 allegedly for taking huge bribe from a private medical college in exchange of granting permission to admit MBBS students. Soon thereafter, MCI was dissolved by then Congress government under mounting public pressure and a Board of Governors (BOG) was established to run country’s medical education and healthcare delivery system. The BOG summarily suspended Dr. Desai’s medical registration for indefinite period after PBT lodged a formal complaint for professional misconduct. More than 7 years later, Dr. Desai is roaming free on bail as the CBI case against is dragging in Patiala Court and MCI is reluctant to disclose the present status of his medical registration as Desai’s cronies who are occupying top positions in the Indian Medical Association (IMA) are promoting and glorifying Dr. Desai through baseless propaganda and paid advertisements in national newspapers. Even investigation by the Central Vigillence Officer (CVO) found several top MCI/IMA leaders lying before the World Medical Association (WMA) only to promote Dr. Desai. But repeated appeals by PBT to the present BJP-led government to take appropriate action have fallen into deaf ears as MCI refused to take any measures against Desai cronies. PBT is now planning to move a new writ petition against these atrocities in Indian healthcare and medical education system.
Lawyer on behalf of PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, sent a legal notice to West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) president and Trinomul-Congress MLA, Dr. Nirmal Maji demanding a public apology after Dr. Maji made baseless and slanderous comments last week after MCI directed to investigate Dr. Maji and two other doctors for their role in alleged dialysis of a pet dog at SSKM Hospital, a premier super-specialty government medical center in Kolkata following complaint lodged by Dr. Saha. In an interview published on 15th November, 2017 in a popular Bengali daily Eisamay in relation to the news of dog’s dialysis, Dr. Maji was quoted to have said that Dr. Saha has been “cheating” people of West Bengal through his charitable organization (PBT). In the same interview, Dr. Maji also threatened that WBMC would take steps to cancel medical registration of Dr. Saha who is originally a physician from Kolkata and registered with WBMC although he has been settled permanently in USA (as an HIV/AIDS specialist) for the past more than two decades. The legal notice sent by Dr. Saha’s advocate has further stated that if Dr. Maji fails to send a satisfactory response within 10 days, Dr. Saha may have no other option but to move the court of law for the ends of justice. PBT was established by Dr. Saha in 2001 and over the 16 years, PBT has been helping countless victims of medical negligence to find justice and trying to cleanse the rot in Indian healthcare system through public interest litigations (PILs) in Supreme Court and High Courts across India.