The Addl. Chief Judicial Magistrate (ACJM) in Bidhannagar, Kolkata has taken cognisance and charged Dr. Nirmal Maji, a sitting MLA from the ruling Trinamool-Congress party who was also the president of West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) until a couple of months ago, and Mr. Manas Chakraborty, WBMC registrar who is also the “Returning Officer” in charge of the ongoing WBMC election, for criminal offences under Indian Penal Code (IPC) Section 409 and Section 120B in response to a complaint filed by PBT president Dr. Kunal Saha. The court has issued summons against Dr. Maji and Mr. Chakraborty and asked them to appear and surrender on 14th September, 2022 (see Order below). This unprecedented criminal case against the president and registrar of the state medical council was filed after it was revealed that Dr. Maji was using advocates paid by WBMC day after day to defend a “criminal defamation” case against Maji in which the WBMC was not a party or connected in any way. PBT issued a press release today and demanded for immediate suspension of Dr. Maji from the W.B. Assembly and also the numerous high-rank posts that he still holds in various sectors of the state government (see below)
The 5-year term of the present West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC), headed by Trinomul-Congress MLA Dr. Nirmal Maji, ended in July, 2018 but the same members are still running the medical council without holding any new election till now. Ironically, no doctor or medical group in West Bengal did anything about this long-drawn atrocity until Dr. Kunal Saha, PBT president who is also a registered physician from WBMC although lives in USA, moved a writ petition against the medical council. Calcutta High Court today passed a final judgment in this case (which was also argued “in person” by Dr. Saha) and makes severe criticism of the ongoing functioning by the same members of WBMC by holding that the council has continued to function “unlawfully”. The HC also directs to dissolve the present WBMC members by July 31, 2022 and asked the state government to form an Ad hoc body to run day to day function of WBMC from August 1, 2022. The court has further directed that new election to be completed by October 31, 2022 and WBMC with newly elected members must take charge of the council on November 1, 2022. PBT has long been fighting to remove corruption in the medical councils in states across India because without honest doctors in the medical council, incidence of medical negligence across the country is not going to change.
The Ethics and Medical Registration Board (EMRB) of the National Medical Commission (NMC) has brought a new proposal that may provide legal rights to doctors refuse treatment even from a seriously ill patient brought to the Emergency room if any of the accompanying worried person from the patient-party show any “abusive” behavior toward the medicos. There is no legal definition for “abusive”. The Merriam-Webster English dictionary has defined “abusive” as “using harsh, insulting language”. In order to keep our healers on a different sphere of modern civilization under pressure from the power medical lobby and Indian Medical Association (IMA), NMC has come up with this absurd and draconian new law that may result in death of a critically ill patient whose life-saving may be refused by the doctor even if a worried and mentally upset family member in the patient party uses any unpalatable language against the attending doctor on the spur of the moment. PBT has sent an urgent representation to the EMRB president demanding that such shocking and anti-patient new law must be withdrawn forthwith or PBT will move the appropriate court of law to save defenseless patients’ lives (see the Deccan Herald report below).
Today (May 28, 2022), 24th death anniversary of late Anuradha Saha, wife of PBT founder Dr. Kunal Saha, is observed as “Patients’ Day” (Rogi Divas) to commemorate the loss of Anuradha and countless other defenseless patients who have been dying solely due to gross medical negligence and reckless treatment by hitherto “untouchable” doctors and highly influential hospitals as well as other medical lobbies in India including the IMA. The Consumer Forums, either under the old CPA 1986 or new CPA 2019 Act has been an abysmal failure to bring speedy justice for the victims of medical negligence. Although the CPA provisions say that a complaint should be decided within a period of 3-5 month, cases of alleged medical negligence are kept pending before the District, State or National Consumer Forums for years and even decades making a total mockery of the Consumer Protection Act. PBT is dedicated to continue fighting for medical justice for all victims and to bring an end to the rampant healthcare corruption across India as we vouch again today, on the Patients’ Day (Rogi Divas).
The last election in West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) was held in 2013 and that too, only after PBT brought a PIL as no election was held after the 5-year period as per law. The 5-year term of the members who were elected in 2013 expired in 2018 but the same members are still running all important functions of WBMC till today. PBT brought another PIL in 2018 for this deliberate and long delay in holding election but when the matter came before Justice Sabyasachi Bhattacharyya in Calcutta HC today (April 18, 2022), WBMC advocates were absent. Justice Bhattacharyya adjourned the hearing for 1 week with a direct warning to WBMC that if they fail to appear in court next week, an order may be passed in their absence (see the Cal HC Order below). Dr. Kunal Saha, PBT president, appeared in person and argued the matter on behalf of PBT.
In a historic PIL filed in the Supreme Court by PBT more than two decades ago (SC W.P. Civil No. 317/2000), Medical Council of India (MCI) replaced by National Medical Council (NMC) in 2019, were given appellate and supervisory authority over the State Medical Councils (SMCs) by implementation of two new provisions in 2004, Section 8.7 and 8.8, under which anyone aggrieved by decision from the SMC may challenge the said order. Over the past two decades, PBT has been helping countless victims of medical negligence to challenge biased and erroneous order passed by the state medical council in favor of the accused doctor under Section 8.7/8.8 many of whom were successful to overturn SMC’s order as MCI held doctors guilty for medical negligence to cancel license of the errant medicos delivering equitable justice for the victims.
Members of the new NMC “Ethics and Medical Registration Board” (EMRB) have now started to refuse to accept appeals filed by victims of “medical negligence” challenging orders passed by the SMCs citing that Section 30 of the NMC Act, 2019 provides right to aggrieved doctors to appeal if they were found guilty by the SMC but no such right exists for the aggrieved complainants/victims of medical negligence. Interestingly, NMC has remained completely silent about rights of the victims under Section 8.7/8.8 to challenge SMC’s decisions which is the law since 2004. PBT has sent an urgent notice to the NMC seeking answers to the specific questions in regard to the rights of the victims of medical negligence and/or ethical violation by delinquent physicians. If NMC remains silent or does not provide reasonable answers, PBT is ready to move another PIL against this palpable atrocity by the top medical regulatory authority (NMC) in India (see copy of the Notice sent by PBT to the NMC below).
A new “Contempt of Court” application was moved on April 4, 2022 by PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, against Mrs. Dipa Sen (Maity), a sitting judge and non-judicial member of the West Bengal Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (WBCDRC) in Kolkata for causing obstruction to Dr. Saha who came from his resident in USA to appear and argue on behalf of victims of medical negligence. In 2019, large groups of advocates at WBCDRC heckled and obstructed Dr. Saha from representing victims whose cases were pending before the state consumer forum. Dr. Saha moved a writ petition against this obstruction and Calcutta High Court passed a final judgment in 2021 holding categorically that Dr. Saha has fundamental right to help victims of medical nCal HC Order (April 4, 2022) CC-20-22 Contempt
Bengal health department has filed an affidavit in Calcutta HC this week in response to PBT’s PIL against numerous flaws in the much hyped Swasthya Sathi health scheme by Mamata Banerjee’s government. While not providing any answers to the specific points raised in the PIL, e.g. how the budget increased since declaration of “universal” coverage under Swasthya Sathi for all residents to receive free treatment up to Rs. 5 lakh, government has made some startling submissions including:
A) More than 2.3 crore Bengal residents are now covered under Swasthya Sathi with a huge surge since universal coverage starting on December 2, 2020 as only about 2.5 lakh residents were covered until that point. However, Govt. has admitted that people who had Swasthya Sathi prior to December 2, 2020 would be covered under the “INSURANCE” mode while those vast majority who got Swasthya Sathi after December 2, 2020 would be covered under “ASSURANCE” mode.
B) Nobody can be refused treatment whether they are able to produce Swasthya Sathi card or not. Many private hospitals and nursing home across W.B. routinely refuse to treat patients unless they pay with cash in front. PBT has already filed a supplementary affidavit listing many such patients who have come to PBT after being refused treatment or compelled to pay out of their own pocket despite having the Swasthya Sathi card.
C) Govt. has also claimed that they are providing Rs. 5 lakh/year for Swasthya Sathi on a “floater basis” (page 4, para vi). It means that a single member of the family may use the entire Rs. 5 lakh if required. Question – what will happen to the other members of the family if any of them become sick?
PBT is to bring all these and other unanswered points before the Cal HC when this matter will come up for next hearing on May 2, 2022.
PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, sent a letter to the national Indian Medical Association (IMA) president seeking his urgent intervention to remove Dr. Nirmal Maji, a disgraced MLA for Trinomul-Congress party who is also the West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) president and involved with numerous scandals including attempt to perform a pet dog’s dialysis at the premier state SSKM Hospital in Kolkata endangering the lives of countless patients, from contesting the election next month for IMA Kolkata branch president. A nasty fight has erupted in the past few days in Kolkata between Dr. Maji and one Dr. Prasanta Bhattacharyya, both of whom are contesting for the same post and claimed themselves to be staunched TMC supporter.
Two separate criminal cases are ongoing in the Special Court for MPs/MLSs in Kolkata against Dr. Maji since 2018 including a case under Indian Penal Code (IPC) Section 409 for criminal “breach of trust by a public servant” allegedly for extorting of funds from WBMC where Dr. Maji has remained as the president since 2011. In the appeal to IMA national president, PBT president has stated that electing a tainted doctor like Dr. Nirmal Maji would send wrong message to the public and undermine dignity of the entire medical profession in the eyes of the society (see Dr. Saha’s letter below).
While dismissing “as not entertained” a contempt of court petition against two sitting judges of the West Bengal State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (SCDRC), Mrs. Dipa Sen (Maity), presiding judge and Mr. Shyamal Kumar Ghosh, member of court no. 3, Calcutta High Court Justice Mr. Sabyasachi Bhattacharyya clearly agreed with the petitioner, PBT president Dr. Kunal Saha who was arguing in person, that lawyers for the accused doctor/hospital may be seeking repeated adjournments to delay the proceeding in a medical negligence case that has been pending before the state consumer court since 2016. The High Court also highly praised PBT president’s role as a non-advocate counsel in court arguing for social causes and helping victims of medical negligence in their quest for justice as the court unequivocally stated, “In his (Dr. Saha) usual fairness……”. Most remarkably, the court passed an order directing that the original case of medical negligence that has been pending before the state consumer forum since 2016 without much progress should be completed within September 30, 2022 (see copy of the Calcutta HC Order). The observations made by the High Court may have important implications in speedy disposal of medical negligence cases that are languishing in the consumer courts for years and decades due to repeated adjournments sought primarily by the advocates appearing on behalf of the accused hospitals and doctors.
Major international media including Washington Post and BBC as well as top international medical journals including Lancet and British Medical Journal (BMJ) have long been reporting that the number of people died due to COVID-19 in India has been grossly undercounted by the Indian authorities as the real number of people died due to COVID-19 in India could be more than 10 times than the number accepted by the Indian health department. Even the Amnesty International, a global humanitarian society, has recently echoed the same concern that many countries with dictatorial leaderships and even some democratic countries have largely suppressed the media for political purposes to spread misinformation and disinformation about COVID-19 pandemic including giving false number of deaths from this ongoing pandemic. PBT also raised the question of actual number of death from COVID-19 to the Indian Center of Medical Research (ICMR) in view of the published reports from international organizations but received no response from the top governmental authority responsible to control COVID-19. Journal of Clinical and Medical Images (JCMI) published an eye-opening article this week on role of the media and highly controversial number of deaths from COVID-19 as officially declared by the Indian government. This article was written by PBT president and a medical viro-immunologist, Dr. Kunal Saha, who has been fighting to cleanse healthcare corruption and helping victims of medical negligence in India for the past more than two decades ever since his wife and a child psychologist, Anuradha Saha, died to to gross medical negligence by several so-called “eminent” doctors in Kolkata including Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee who is still holding top post in West Bengal healthcare despite Supreme Court of India dubbing him so bad as “unbecoming of a doctor” in the highest ever medical negligence case in Indian medico-legal history. The article published in JCMI on January 10, 2022 is pasted below and it can also be accessed at: https://www.clinandmedimages.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/JCMI-v6-1499.pdf
PBT celebrated it’s 21st anniversary on Thursday (December 30) with a public seminar in Kolkata where PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, along with many victims of medical negligence including COVID victims were present. PBT also filed a memorandum to the prime minister urging him to step forward and take necessary measures so that cases of the COVID victims are taken up separately by the consumer court for timely and speedy delivery of justice. Many COVID victims’ families were present in this program and echoed PBT’s appeal to the prime minister that investigation and justice for their loved ones must be done now and expeditiously. PBT president also called the political leaders and government to root out the widespread corruption in the healthcare delivery system and judiciary to save the lives of the ordinary citizens of India (click the link below to see the PBT program and views of PBT program).
Kolkata High Court Justice Mr. Sabyasachi Bhattacharyya issued a notice for “Contempt of Court” against two sitting judges of West Bengal State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (WBSCDRC) on Monday (Nov. 29) after PBT president,Dr. Kunal Saha, was obstructed to appear and argue a case of alleged medical negligence before two judges, Mrs. Dipa Sen, presiding member and Mr. Shyamal Kumar Ghosh, member, in court no. 3 of WBSCDRC. On behalf of PBT, Dr. Saha has been helping victims of medical negligence by appearing before the consumer courts across India including the National Consumer Forum (NCDRC) frequently coming from his permanent residence in USA at his own expense. However, a group of lawyers have been strongly opposing Dr. Saha’s selfless efforts to help medical victims find justice by regularly challenging his appearance in court. Earlier this year, Calcutta High Court categorically ruled that Dr. Saha has fundamental right to appear and argue on behalf of victims of medical negligence before any judicial and quasi-judicial bodies in India and that he should not be obstructed in doing so. But Dr. Saha was stopped again by WBSCDRC from arguing before the court no. 3 on behalf of a victim of alleged medical negligence as the advocates for the accused doctor/hospital challenged Dr. Saha’s authority to argue and the court adjourned the case allowing the advocates to file a formal application challenging Dr. Saha’s appearance despite Dr. Saha’s earnest submission that Calcutta High Court already decided this issue. Since the case was adjourned anyway, Dr. Saha himself moved Calcutta High Court with a “Contempt of Court” petition against the two judges of WBSCDRC as the High Court admitted his petition and issued contempt notice against the two judges giving 2 weeks time for their response and fixing December 20, 2021 for next hearing of this historic contempt case against sitting consumer commission judges (see below the news on this).
PBT president Dr. Kunal Saha appeared in-person and received a “leave” from the only division bench functioning during the puja vacation in Calcutta High Court to file an urgent writ petition (PIL) yesterday (October 27) seeking immediate intervention by the court to stop the more than 2-week long “doctors’ strike” that has crippled regular medical services at the super-speciality government R.G. Kar Medical College and Hospital in Kolkata bringing endless pain, suffering and death of vulnerable patients most of whom are of poor socioeconomic condition and cannot afford expensive treatment at private hospitals. “Doctors’ strike” is wrong, both morally and legally. In response to another PIL from PBT against a nation-wide “doctors’ strike” called by the Indian Medical Association (IMA), a 3-judge bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India categorically held that strike by doctors may amount to negligence warranting disciplinary action by the medical councils for “misconduct”. Despite such unequivocal prohibition from the Apex Court, doctors have continued to hold the innocent patients hostage by frequently joining “doctors’ strike” in order to settle their personal scores with the government or hospital authorities. In order to stop the ongoing “doctors’ strike” at the R.G. Kar Hospital, PBT lodged a formal complaint with the West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) urging them to take immediate disciplinary action against the striking medicos in accordance to the directions from the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, WBMC has remained absolutely silent and refused to take any action against the doctors compelling PBT to move this new PIL. This writ petition is expected to be heard by the High Court on October 29, 2021.
The Special Court for MLAs/MPs charged with a criminal offense held West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) president and recently elected MLA from the ruling Trinomool-Congress (TMC) party prima facie guilty for criminal defamation (under Indian Penal Code section 500) and ordered him to stand trial starting November 20, 2021. PBT president Dr. Kunal Saha filed this historic criminal case against Dr. Maji after the TMC MLA gave an interview with a national daily in which he openly said that Dr. Saha has been minting money by cheating people in the name of a charitable organization (PBT). Dr. Maji further threatened that Dr. Saha medical registration may be canceled by the WBMC. The rage against Dr. Saha was the result after Dr. Saha lodged a complaint against Dr. Maji following a botched attempt by Dr. Maji to use the dialysis machine of SSKM Hospital, a premier government hospital in Kolkata, for dialysis of a pet dog putting lives of innocent human patients in danger. The Medical Council of India (MCI) investigated the complaint and held Dr. Maji and two other doctors guilty as charged but let the guilty doctors go with only a “warning”. Dr. Saha also lodged a second criminal case against Dr. Maji for money laundering and criminal breach of trust by a public servant (under IPC section 409). Dr. Maji was also found prima facie guilty in this case but was released on bail. Both these criminal cases against Dr. Maji will come up for hearing next month. A copy of the Special Court order passed is pasted below.
Ethics section of National Medical Commission (NMC), highest medical regulatory authority in India, sent a letter this week to the Ministry of Health and PBT recommending new guidelines for arrest of a doctor under Indian Penal Code (IPC) section 304A (“criminal negligence”). The Apex Court passed a historic judgment in 2005 in Jacob Mathews v. State of Punjab holding that a doctor may be arrested and charged for “criminal negligence” causing death of patient following Bolam’s law but only after the police and investigating agency obtain certificate from doctors in governing hospital supporting the case for negligence. However, Apex Court expressed this opinion only as a temporary measure until NMC (then MCI) is able to frame specific guidelines for “criminal negligence”. Unfortunately, while Jacob Mathews (Supra.) judgment was related only to “criminal negligence”, this judgment has been grossly and widely misused and abused as civil courts and consumer courts across India have been regularly dismissing cases of “medical negligence” citing Jacob Mathews judgment that has absolutely no application in tort cases for medical negligence.
PBT was also a party in the (in)famous Jacob Mathews (Supra.) case in 2005s and earlier this year, PBT sent a legal notice to NMC demanding framing of specific guidelines for criminal negligence and arrest of a doctor in accordance to the Apex Court’s order 16 years ago. PBT also said that unless NMC frames the guidelines for criminal negligence to charge a doctor under IPC 304A, a “contempt of Supreme Court” case would be brought against the NMC. In response, NMC has now recommended guidelines for “criminal negligence” by an errant doctor. While some of these recommendations may have useful purpose, such as that a District or State Medical Board must investigate when a case of alleged “criminal negligence” is referred to them based on which charges under iPC Section 304A may be brought against a doctor, the guidelines are still grossly non-transparent (as no specific about how the members of Medical Board would be chosen) and no indication whether any non-medical person would be part of the State or District Medical Board. The letter from NMC including the full recommended guidelines is attached below.
Ahindra Biswas, a resident of Serampore, West Bengal came to PBT seeking help to find justice after his 59-year old wife, Sumitra Biswas, died from alleged medical negligence due to COVID-19 as shown in the death certificate issued by a local government hospital, Walsh Hospital. When the medical records were analyzed, shocking reports of COVID-19 testing came to light – before admission to Walsh Hospital, the patient was tested for COVID-19 by RT-PCR by a private diagnostic clinic on 19th May, 2021 and the result was negative showing that she did not have COVID-19. However, when she was taken to Walsh Hospital only few hours later on the same day and COVID-19 was tested again using a standard rapid antigen (ICT) test that found that the patient was positive for COVID-19. It is almost impossible for the most sensitive RT-PCR test for COVID-19 to find an infected patient as negative. Was the RT-PCR kit used by the diagnostic cline was fake? Or was it the rapid antigen (ICT) kit used at Walsh Hospital of poor quality to detect the corona virus in a COVID-19-negative patient? Ironically, the patient died on 22nd May, 2021, only three days after admission to Walsh Hospital from COVID-19 pneumonia as allegedly stated in the death certificate.
PBT has sent an urgent memorandum to the director of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), top regulatory authority to control detection and treatment of COVID-19, demanding a thorough and transparent investigation to learn the truth about the almost impossible dichotomy between the two COVID-19 test reports. If one of these two testing kits was truly fake, then perhaps countless patients across West Bengal and India were misdiagnosed because of the faulty test kits used by unscrupulous manufacturers and diagnostics laborites. PBT president Dr. Kunal Saha played a key role in a similar scam with HIV testing kits in 2007 when Dr. Saha, a medical virologist and immunologist based in USA, was hired by the World Bank to investigate alleged faulty kits in India. The World Bank published a detailed investigative report (DIR) in 2009 with scathing criticism and evidence of widespread corruption with the HIV kits in India.
Families of numerous COVID-19 victims have come to PBT seeking justice after their loved ones were whisked inside the hospital in the name of COVID isolation therapy only to learn that the patient died and their bodies cremated by the governmental authority. This has been the story all over India since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic more than one year ago. This week, another such COVID-19 living victim came to PBT after his wife died from alleged COVID-19 pneumonia at a government hospital (Walsh Hospital) in Serampore, near Kolkata. PBT received copy of the death certificate issued by the Walsh Hospital clearly stating that the 59-year old female was admitted on 19th May, 2021 and died from COVID-19 pneumonia on 22nd May, 2021. However, victim’s husband also produced a RT-PCR test report from a private diagnostic laboratory for COVID-19 done on the same day (May 19) before patient’s admission in the Walsh Hospital that clearly stated that the patient was COVID-negative. RT-PCR is the most sensitive test to detect the present of COVID-19 virus in a patient. It is medical impossible for a patient to be COVID-negative one day and dying from COVID only 3 days later. Was the RT-PCR test report bogus or did Walsh Hospital committed gross negligence to declare that the patient died from COVID-19? State authorities must answer and the culprits must be brought to justice immediately.
A new public interest litigation (PIL) was filed in Calcutta High Court by PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, asking the court to direct the Election Commission to proceed with “Contempt” of the Supreme Court against recently elected MLA Dr. Nirmal Maji and Mamata Banerjee-led ruling TMC party. Concerned with increased number of MLAs/MPs with criminal antecedents being elected to the state assembly or parliament, Apex Court in a landmark order last year laid specific steps that all political parties nominating candidates with criminal history must take to adequately inform the voters that their candidate is facing criminal charges or convicted for an offense. The Election Commission also issued notice to all political parties and election officers to strictly follow the Supreme Court’s direction for candidates with criminal antecedents.
Dr. Maji has been criminally indicted for at least two separate alleged crimes and remains free on bail waiting for the trial to begin. Both criminal cases were filed by PBT president Dr. Saha and include serious charges for money laundering by a public servant (IPC section 409) and forgery/fraud (IPC section 464). In blatant violation of Apex Court’s direction both Dr. Maji and TMC have ignored virtually all the steps stipulated by the Supreme Court to adequately inform the voters about Maji’s criminal history. Unfortunately, Election Commission also remained silent after Dr. Saha raised these issues with them urging them to take necessary action against Dr. Maji and TMC. Ironically, Dr. Maji has allegedly won the election and now an MLA from Uluberia (Uttar) constituency in West Bengal. The new PIL has not only asked the court to direct the Election Commission to proceed with the “contempt of court” cases against Dr. Maji and TMC, it has further sought to disbar his from the legislative assembly. The PIL is expected to come up for hearing next week.
Dr. Kunal Saha, president of People for Better Treatment (PBT), was an invited Keynote Speaker before the European Society of Medicine (ESMED) General Assembly conference held in Berlin, Germany last week where he presented the reasons for the gross failure to combat the COVID-19 pandemic by the Indian authority including Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the long-drawn fight by PBT to bring justice to the countless victims of medical negligence who died from COVID-19 from mismanagement and lack of basic medical care including insufficient supply of oxygen. Dr. Saha also criticized the widespread misinformation and disinformation propagated by USA (during Donald Trump presidency) and Indian governments that have politicized COVID medical management and done a great service to undermine public trust on the healthcare professionals. A full research article was also published last week in Medical Research Archives (from ESMED) written by Dr. Saha on this and other pertinent aspects of public health and doctor-patient relationship. The full article may be seen at the link: https://esmed.org/MRA/mra/article/view/2509/193545913 (copy attached below).
In a shocking report published this week by researchers at Center for Global Development in Washington DC and Harvard University in Boston, it is reported that about 4.9 million people may have died from COVID-19 in India. According to the official death count from COVID-19 till date is only 4.1 million as can be seen on Indian Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MOHFW) website (www.mohfw.gov.in). In other words, Indian healthcare authorities have underreported COVID-19 deaths by a whopping 90%. International medical experts and top medical journals have long been indicated that Indian government has substantially underreported the number of people died from COVID-19. The results published by researchers this week have clearly demonstrated how shockingly Indian medical authorities have suppressed the pain, agony and death suffered by the ordinary Indians. PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, has sent a memorandum to the ICMR and MOHFW seeking clarification of the number of deaths due to COVID-19 in view of this latest revelation by the new study and said that PBT may move the court if ICMR and MOHFW do not provide a satisfactory response within 7 days (see the new research article below).
The Lancet, one of the most premier international medical journal has published today the most critical question to solve the ongoing COVID-19 rampage and human catastrophe that must be answered by the present medical and political leaders of India – Can India’s COVID-19 emergency be fixed without politics?”. The “correspondence” published in the latest issue of the Lancet dated 26th June, 2021 was authored by USA-based HIV/AIDS specialist and founding-president of PBT, Dr. Kunal Saha. PBT and Dr. Saha have been fighting relentlessly against the botched planning to control the COVID-19 pandemic by Indian authorities including Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MOHFW) from the very begging of the pandemic. A PIL against the mindless use of anti-malarial drug, Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), was lodged last year by PBT in the Supreme Court of India. PBT also lodged strong protest against the more recent and baseless claim (promoted also by the central health minister, Dr. Harsh Vardhan) that an herbal drug, “Coronil” can prevent and cure COVID-19. This and other points have been raised in the article written by Dr. Saha in the Lancet to draw attention of the international medical community to the ongoing atrocities with the COVID-19 pandemic in India. The full Lancet article can be seen at the link: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(21)01227-7/fulltext?dgcid=raven_jbs_etoc_email (copy also attached).
Dr. Nirmal Maji, a close ally of Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, has been accused of another major scandal for unlawfully procuring large amount of a highly expensive injection against COVID-19, Tocilizumab, in order to make huge financial profit. Although Mamata Banerjee government has tried to downplay this serious allegation against Dr. Maji who has also denied all allegations, the incidence has created another shock wave across West Bengal that has been rocked with numerous scandals by high-rank political leaders and government officials.
Dr. Maji is presently roaming free on bail only after he was indicted on two separate criminal cases filed by PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha in 2018. These two cases include a charge under IPC Section 409 (“criminal breach of trust by a public servant) and IPC Section 464 (“fraud”) for allegedly taking money from West Bengal Medical Council for personal use and if convicted, he faces 10 years of jail. These criminal cases are presently pending before the Special Court for MPs/MLAs in Bidhan Nagar, Kolkata and scheduled for next hearing on 19 June, 2021. Dr. Maji was also found guilty for professional misconduct by the Medical Council of India (MCI) for planning to perform dialysis of his pet dog at the top super-specialty government hospital, SSKM Hospital in Kolkata, and only after PBT brought this heinous act to the notice of MCI, he was found guilty but MCI let him go with a slap in the wrist by issuing only a “warning”.
May 28 is celebrated each year as “Rogi Divas” (“Patients’ Day”) to commemorate the sacrifices made by all the victims of medical negligence and to celebrate fundamental rights for proper medical care for all the patients in India. This May 28 (“Rogi Divas”) is also the 23rd death anniversary of Anuradha Saha who died on May 28, 1998 during a social visit to India due to gross medical negligence by AMRI Hospital and three other senior Kolkata doctors including Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee who still remains as a close ally of Bengal chief minister, Mamata Banerjee as the Bengal government is desperately trying to restore Dr. Mukherjee’s badly dented public image after the Supreme Court of India held him guilty for gross medical negligence and imposed the highest ever compensation (Rs. 11.5 crore) in Indian medical history.
Because of the ongoing devastation and spread of COVID-19, PBT will host an “open for all” ZOOM meeting at 5 PM on Friday (May 28, 2021). The link to join this open conference via ZOOM is given below. PBT president Dr. Kunal Saha will also be present in the ZOOM meeting from his residence in USA and will answer questions from the participants about medical negligence and COVID-19 fiasco in India. All ordinary people, conscientious doctors and victims of medical negligence are cordially invited to attend this ZOOM meeting on Friday (May 28).
Copy and paste the Link below to join the Zoom meeting at 5 pm (IST) on Friday, May 28, 2021:
At the initial stage of COVID-19 pandemic more than one year ago, Indian doctors started widespread use of unproven anti-malarial drug, Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), to treat COVID-19 following recommendation from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), top governmental authority responsible for control of COVID-19 pandemic. Most medical experts around the globe rejected any role of HCQ against COVID-19 and premier cardiac groups issued strong warning that adverse effects for HCQ use may trigger heart failure and death in COVID-19 patients with pre-existing heart condition. PBT brought a PIL against ICMR for reckless recommendation to use HCQ in COVID-19 patients with scientific evidence and at the direction of the Apex Court, ICMR was compelled to issue instructions that doctors must obtain valid “informed consent” from COVID-19 patients before starting HCQ therapy. One year later, large multi-national clinical trials have established that not only HCQ has no beneficial role, it can increase mortality rate when used along with Azithromycin in COVID-19 patients. While the public hype with HCQ for treatment of COVID-19 patients is no longer visible, ICMR has still continued to keep HCQ in their published COVID-19 treatment guidelines despite almost universal rejection by the world medical community.
While the hype with HCQ may have died down, a new hype has started with another “off-label” and untested drug, Ivermectin, for treatment of hapless COVID-19 patients in India. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA),world’s “gold-standard” for approval of new drug and World Health Organization (WHO), premier international health organization, have issued warnings that Ivermectin should not be used in any COVID-19 patients except in a formalized clinical trial. While use of a known drug is sometime used for an unapproved medical condition (known as “off-label” use) but such “off-label” use must be done with extreme caution and must be backed by supporting scientific evidence. Reckless use of an approved medicine for an untested disease can also cause unforeseen but serious adverse effects. Patients have every right to know all drugs used by their doctors and whether there is scientific reason for using “off-label” medicine and about all potential side effects of the medicine. Doctors must explain any “off-label” use of Ivermectin in COVID-19 patients and should obtain a valid “informed consent” before starting this untested medicine. PBT submitted an urgent memorandum to ICMR this week asking them to direct Indian doctors that they must obtain “informed consent” from the patient if they intend to start unproven Ivermectin on a COVID-19 patient. Reckless promotion of Ivermectin therapy and baseless claim that this drug can prevent or cure COVID-19 must be strongly reprimanded and violators should be punished in accordance to law.
In a scathing criticism of the shocking situation in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in India, top international medical journal, British Medical Journal (BMJ) posted an article on their website today written by PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, who has raised serious questions about how and why the COVID-19 situation went from bad to worse in India. While expressing doubts about devious political intrusion of Indian medicine and raising specific questions as to who are responsible for failure to anticipate the lack of adequate oxygen supply in Indian hospitals, Dr. Saha has called for a complete transformation of the crippled medical system and declared that until honesty, integrity and transparency are restored in the healthcare regulatory authorities in India, medical calamities like the present COVID-19 pandemic are likely to devastate India in the future. See the full article below which may also be viewed at the BMJ website by clicking the link below:
On the face of the ravaging second-wave of COVID-19 pandemic that has already killed thousands of defenseless Indians and countless others with milder disease are treated at home, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MOHFW), nation’s two top health regulatory authorities have advised conflicting treatment guidelines for home-bound COVID-19 patients with “mild disease”. The treatment controversy proposed by ICMR and MOHFW for Indian doctors is linked with whether unproven anti-malarial drug, Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), should or should not be used for treatment of in-home COVID-19 patients who are asymptotic or having mild disease. HCQ has shown to have no positive role against COVID-19 and it can even cause serious adverse effects on patients with pre-existing heart condition. Most medical experts around the world have already rejected any use of HCQ in COVID-19 patients and FDA has also banned its use to combat the coronavirus pandemic. Ironically, after the disgraced ex-US president, Donald Trump, touted use of HCQ as a “magic drug” against COVID-19 without any scientific evidence only for political reasons, Indian government also echoed his call and started massive campaign to use HCQ for treatment of COVID-19. PBT lodged a PIL in the Supreme Court against ICMR and MOHFW against their irrational use of HCQ in COVID-19 patients and Apex Court disposed of the said PIL with specific direction for ICMR to consider PBT’s scientific contentions presented in the PIL. This matter is still being fought by PBT with the leaders of the ICMR and MOHFW.
ICMR issued a “clinical guidance” for doctors on 22nd April, 2021 that HCQ can be used to treat COVID-19 patients at home. But only days later on 5th May, 2021, MOHFW posted their “revised guidelines” for treatment of in-home COVID-19 patients in which only anti-parasite drug, Ivermectin, but no HCQ was recommended. We are confused why this contrasting guidelines issued for treatment of COVID-19 patients by the two supreme governmental medical regulatory authorities in India? If HCQ plays a beneficial role against COVID-19 as ICMR recommended, why the MOHFW rejected it’s use? And if MOHFW did not recommend any use of HCQ for in-home COVID-19 patients for possible adverse effects, why ICMR prompted that doctors may use it on their patients? PBT has written to ICMR director demanding immediate clarification of this confusing situation with HCQ. But many doctors across India perhaps already used (or not used) HCQ on their hapless COVID-19 patients based depending on the recommendation from ICMR or MOHFW – and if anybody is harmed for such shocking failure in communication between ICMR and MOHFW, who would be responsible?
The Washington Post, world-renowned newspaper from USA, carried a report this week entitled,”In an Indian city, obituaries reveal missing coronavirus deaths and untold suffering” describing the horrific status of COVID-19 situation in India. The report provides compelling evidence showing that government authorities in different states have been involved with grossly suppressing the number of people dying since April following the second wave of COVID-19. On the other hand, experts from ICMR and AIIMS on the “National Task Force” have issued a new “Clinical Guidance” on 22nd April, 2021 in which they have recommended that doctors may use HCQ in home-bound COVID-19 patients despite almost all the clinical studies have concluded that HCQ has no positive in combating coronavirus infection and when used along with antibiotic Azithromycin (a combination routinely used by doctors in India and ICMR also recommended this combination previously), it can cause “significant increase in mortality” in COVID-19 patients. Developed countries including USA and UK have long rejected any idea for using HCQ in COVID-19.
PBT moved a PIL in the Apex Court against the ICMR last year soon after COVID-19 pandemic started and Indian medical authorities started touting off-label use of HCQ to fight COVID-19 without supporting scientific evidence. Along with the Modi government, only other government that also went on a frenzied promotion of HCQ in COVID-19 patients was then US president, Donald Trump. The Apex Court disposed of PBT’s PIL with specific direction that ICMR should consider our contentions of unscientific use of HCQ in COVID-19 which was based on world-wide opinions from reputed medical bodies including American Heart Association that issued strong warning that HCQ may bring sudden death in COVID-19 patients with pre-existing heart condition. PBT has sent a notice to ICMR and MOHFW today asking them to explain why they are recommending use of HCQ again and also to declare the actual number of people died from COVID-19 since the beginning of April, 2021. PBT’s notice also stated that if ICMR/MOHFW continue to remain silent, PBT will move the court once again for the ends of justice.
Dr. Nirmal Maji, a sitting MLA of the ruling TMC party and a close confidant of Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, was selected by the TMC party to run again in the 2021 assembly election from the Uluberia (Uttar) constituency in West Bengal, despite two pending criminal cases against Dr. Maji. Both criminal cases against Dr. Maji were moved in 2018 by PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, containing serious charges like alleged money laundering by a public servant (under IPC Section 409) and fraud (under IPC Section 464). These criminal cases are still pending before a criminal Special Court from MLAs/MPs at Bidhannagar, Kolkata with next hearing date fixed on April 17, 2021.
Although it is unbelievable but true that there is no specific bar for convicted/indicted criminals to run in elections in India, Supreme Court recently directed specific stipulations for criminally convicted/indicted candidates to contest in elections and based on the Apex Court’s rulings, Election Commission of India (ECI) transmitted a letter/notification dated 16th September, 2020 to all chief election commissioners (CEOs) across India with specific directions that any political party selects a candidate who was previously convicted for any criminal offense or who is with a pending criminal case, the party must widely and publicly declare the candidate’s criminal background through the print/electronic/social media. The ECI notification further stipulated that the political party with criminally convicted/indicted candidate must make this public declaration “within 48 hours” after the candidate is officially selected and the political party must also put this information on their own website. Further, ECI notification has also stipulated that the political party selecting a candidate with criminal antecedents must also explain why other individuals with no criminal background were not chosen as a candidate. PBT has never affiliated with any political party and it is also a common knowledge that convicted/indicted criminals from all major political parties routinely run in elections and sometime even win these elections – shame should go not only to these immoral political parties but also to those voters who cast their votes for convicted or indicted criminals.
Election of the Uluberia (Uttar) constituency is scheduled to be held on April 6, 2021 and the last date for withdrawal of a candidate has already passed, TMC has remained dead silent without any publication or advertisement about the pending criminal cases against Dr. Maji in order to keep the voters in complete darkness about the criminal background of their candidate in brazen violation of the ECI’s specific directions. PBT president lodged a formal complaint with the Chief Election Commissioner bringing this sheer atrocity and candid transgression of the election laws/rules by the TMC and their MLA candidate, Dr. Nirmal Maji. In the complaint, PBT has asked that the EC must compel TMC to comply with the ECI letter/notification and punish TMC for willful violation of the election laws/rules or they must replace Dr. Maji as a candidate from the Uluberia (Uttar) constituency (see PBT president’s complaint to the ECI below).
Dr. Nirmal Maji, a close ally of Bengal chief minister, Ms. Mamata Banerjee, has been nominated as a Trinomul-Congress (TMC) candidate from Uluberia-Uttar constituency in West Bengal for the upcoming assembly election.Dr. Maji has filed affidavit with the Election Commission that shows that for the last year (2019-2020), he has earned only Rs. 4,81,037/- (four lakh eighty-one thousand thirty-seven rupees only) which is almost Rs. 45,000/- less than what he claimed to have made the year before (see Dr. Maji’s affidavit below). Dr. Maji has occupied the post of West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) president since 2011 after TMC came to power in West Bengal. Perhaps more interestingly, Dr. Maji has admitted in his affidavit that he is facing two criminal cases at the present time – one for criminal defamation (IPC Section 500/501) and the other for “criminal breach of trust” by a public servant and “fraud” etc. (IPC Sections 403, 406, 409 and 464). Both these criminal cases were moved by PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha – the first case is due to the defamatory comments made by Dr. Maji following his guilty verdict by the MCI for planning to perform a pet dog’s dialysis at the SSKM hospital, a premier government hospital for humans in Kolkata. The second case under IPC Section 403/406/409/464, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment, is for alleged money laundering from the West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) to pay for his personal legal case. Both these criminal cases are pending before the Special Court for MLAs/MPs in Kolkata. While PBT has never been affiliated with any political party and always stood up against all forms of medical corruption whether by the BJP-led central health ministry or TMC-led health ministry in West Bengal and it is also not unique in India to find convicted or indicted criminals are given tickets by different political parties to run in assembly or parliament elections, we wonder why the TMC could not find another doctor with a more clean character and without any criminal background than Dr. Maji to run in Bengal assembly election?
It was a big news in 2015 when three powerful medical leaders backed by the ruling Trinomul-Congress party in West Bengal hatched an unthinkable plan to perform dialysis of a pet dog in the top government SSKM hospital in Kolkata. It was a tremendously reckless plan that could have jeopardized countless human patients to serious danger. Although the actual dog’s dialysis was stopped at the last moment due to intervention of some younger medicos, the misadventure was one for the history book of medical blasphemies. The 3 TMC doctors who orchestrated the whole plan included a sitting TMC MLA and W.B. Medical Council president, Dr. Nirmal Maji, then SSKM Director, Dr. P.K. Mitra and then head of Nephrology at SSKM Hospital, Dr. Rajendra Pandey. PBT fought a fierce battle to bring the three political medical leaders to justice and after years of grueling battle with the medical councils, Medical Council of India (MCI) eventually held the three doctors guilty for unethical conduct and found their conduct “condemnable” although they only issued strong warning on the ground no dog dialysis actually occurred.
Recently, Dr. Pandey was selected to be a member of the all-powerful body of National Medical Commission (NMC) by virtue of his present position of vice-chancellor of West Bengal Health University. Section 7.1(f) of NMC Act, 2019 has categorically stated that all NMC members must be of highest moral and ethical character and a member must be removed from NMC if he/she is found to have abused his/her official position against public interest. Clearly, Dr. Pandey’s deplorable act of attempted dog’s dialysis in a tertiary-care hospital for humans abusing his post of head of Nephrology renders him unfit for the post of a NMC member. PBT lodged a formal complaint yesterday with the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare for immediate removal of Dr. Pandey from the NMC (see PBT’s memorandum below).
In a landmark judgment that may have major implications for countless victims of medical negligence seeking justice after losing their loved one to wrong treatment, Justice Sabyasachi Bhattacharyya of Calcutta High Court allowed a writ petition filed by PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, holding that Dr. Saha, who has been appearing to argue “medical negligence” cases on behalf of the victims for the past many years, has “fundamental right” to plead other victims’ cases before the consumer courts. The High Court has held that although a medical doctor and not a registered advocate, Dr. Saha clearly has “the qualifications” to argue for the victims of medical negligence as stipulated under the Consumer Forum’s Regulations, 2014 as he has been pleading, for free, many cases without any for the victims and other healthcare PILs in consumer and other High Courts and Supreme Court for the past many years.
The writ petition was filed by PBT and Dr. Saha in 2019 against the West Bengal State Consumer Forum and it’s president after Dr. Saha was stopped from arguing for a victim of alleged medical negligence and he was also physically harassed by bunch of other advocates who practice in the consumer court. Dr. Saha also lodged a report with the local police and a separate criminal case is still ongoing for this incidence in Kolkata against the heckling advocates including advocate Mr. Utpal Roychowdhury. Ironically, lawyers in the National Consumer Forums (NCDRC) have also repeatedly objecting against Dr. Saha’s appearance on behalf of victims of medical negligence. PBT and Dr. Saha have been striving hard with selfless dedication to bring accountability to the healthcare delivery system and to help the hapless victims of medical negligence across India ever since Dr. Saha’s wife, Anuradha Saha, died in the most incomprehensible fashion due to gross medical negligence by several so-called “eminent” Kolkata doctors including Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee (a close medical advisor of Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee) during a social visit to India in 1998 (See below the Calcutta HC judgment passed on February 25, 2021).
Indian health minister, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, who is also a bona fide allopathic medical doctor was in the news across the country for openly and publicly endorsing a new Ayurvedic drug, Coronil, manufactured by Patanjali Research Institute, standing next to the well-know Yoga-guru Swami Ramdev, claiming that this is the first medicine that can even cure COVID-19 infection. The problem is – this fantastic claim is based on flimsy, unsubstantiated data and without authentic approval by the “gold-standard” USA Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or Drug Controller General of India (DCGI). The Indian Medical Association (IMA), largest group of doctors of allopathic medicine, has also expressed their shock and severely criticized Dr. Vardhan for promoting unscientific Ayurvedic medicine for reasons that has nothing to do with the modern medical science.
Apart from being a registered medical practitioner, Dr. Vardhan is also a well-known, high-profile figure in Indian medicine being a top BJP leader and central minister of health. Innocent ordinary people and COVID-19 patients are likely to be misguided to purchase and take this new Ayurvedic drug with the false hope for a cure from COVID-19 when a doctor and central minister to the stature of Dr. Vardhan candidly endorses “Coronil”. The MCI Code of Ethics & Regulations, 2002 has provided categorical warnings for all registered doctors against endorsing any drugs that are not scientifically tested or authorized for use in modern allopathic medicine. Any public promotion of such dubious drugs by a doctor may be viewed as “unethical” for which a doctor’s medical license may be revoked temporarily or permanently. PBT lodged a formal complaint today with the U.P. Medical Council (where Dr. Vardhan did his MBBS and originally registered as a physician) seeking an immediate investigation and cancellation of Dr. Vardhan’s medical registration for unethical misconduct under Sections 1.1.1, 1.2.1, 6.1, 6.5 and 6.8(h) of MCI Code of Ethics & Regulations, 2002 (see PBT’s complaint to UPMC below).
A new thought-provoking article, “The dangerous doctors who get away”, published earlier this week in the “Morning Context” underscores decades of high-profile medical negligence cases that brings to light the almost non-existent to get equitable medical justice by the hapless victims of medical negligence. The report also describes how the seemingly untouchable and influential members of the medical community get away from justice just by dragging the cases for decades in the quagmire of the medical justice system to frustrate the victim’s distraught families. PBT has been fighting for a very long time in demand of a real fast-track consumer court to deal with the “medical negligence” cases through administrative and legal cases (PILs) in the High Court and Supreme Court but will little or no support from the authority. Although no official data is available from the Consumer Courts or the law department in India, PBT is directly involved with cases against allegedly negligent doctors/hospitals that are still pending in the court for more than 20 years since the start of the legal case. Please click the link below or read the article attached below.
Here’s the link: https://themorningcontext.com/chaos/india-medical-negligence
Indian health authorities including ICMR and Ministry of Health went on a massive propaganda recommending unproven anti-malarial drug, Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), to combat COVID-19 soon after coronavirus pandemic started in India almost one year ago. Despite no supporting scientific evidence and serious warnings for potential cardiac problems from leading medical groups including American Health Association (AHA), HCQ was widely distributed by Indian doctors and political leaders to almost all suspected or infected COVID-19 patients. PBT brought this medical travesty through a PIL before the Supreme Court of India that directed ICMR to look into our specific scientific arguments and to take appropriate measures vide a final order/judgment on 30th April, 2020.
Although ICMR had to take some preemptive action for using HCQ under pressure from the Apex Court’s order, they never provided information about how many innocent COVID-19 patients may have suffered adverse drug reaction (ADR) or died as a result of the unproven use of HCQ and instead, ICMR submitted vide a letter dated 3rd August, 2020 that such information about ADR or death may be obtained from the drug regulators in India (PvPI) (see ICMR letter below). PBT immediately wrote to the PvPI seeking details about ADR or death of COVID patients in India. More than 6 months have passed, no response received either from the PvPI or Health Ministry despite repeated attempts to contact their healthcare authorities by PBT.
PBT has sent a legal notice to ICMR and PvPI today giving 10 days to provide detail information about the patients suffered from ADR or died due to the reckless use of HCQ by doctors and hospitals across India. If they still remain silent and no response is received, PBT may move a “contempt of court” or other necessary legal action before the appropriate court.
In the recent pre-election months, Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal Government has been touting the “Swasthya Sathi” medical scheme with boisterous claims that all residents of West Bengal will be covered under free health insurance program paid by the state government that will pay up to Rs. 5 lakh each year to cover hospital charges. Of course, it sounds very attractive to the citizens living in the state – who wouldn’t like to have a free health insurance that pays up to Rs. 5 lakh for medical cost every year? But we looked deeper into it and asked some questions about “Swasthya Sathi” to the Bengal health department. In a letter dated 22nd January, 2021, Director of Health Services (DHS) responded categorically stating that although “Swasthya Sathi” would cover all residents (except those who already have government-sponsored insurance) of West Bengal irrespective of their economic or social status, but it would up to Rs. 5 lakh each year “per family” (see DHS letter below).
It means that financial protection from “Swasthya Sathi” would depend on the size of your family and it has also defined “family” as not only husband, wife and children but also father/mother of each spouses. Thus, the “Swasthya Sathi” scheme would pay up to Rs. 5 lakh per year to cover the medical cost for one man if he is a single-member family, e.g. widow or unmarried. But if you belong to a large family of 10 people (including parents, six children and two grandparents), individual member in that family may receive only up to Rs.50,000/- for medical expenses.
Article 14 of Indian Constitution has clearly stated that every person in India must be treated equally. A plain reading of the “Swasthya Sathi” plan shows that it clearly violates the principle of Article 14 of Indian Constitution as it discriminates on the basis of your family size. The scheme is also extreme in another aspect as it says that everybody in West Bengal will receive this no cost government insurance irrespective of their own financial status. Why should a wealthy and rich person be paid by the tax-payers for their medical expenses? PBT has sent a “legal notice” to the Bengal health department today demanding justice for bringing immediate change in the “Swasthya Sathi” program in that every resident, not each family, should receive the same level of protection, i.e. up to Rs. 5 lakh per year for medical expenses. Unless Banerjee-government makes these changes as we have demanded, PBT will bring a public interest litigation (PIL) for the ends of justice.
We are deeply shocked and outraged as large number of innocent newborns died from suffocation after a fire broke out at the sick newborn care unit (SNCU) at the District Hospital in Bhandara, Maharashtra today. This horrific incidence can leave absolutely no doubt that these innocent children died due to gross negligence and failure to adhere to the necessary fire safety codes by the authority and/or attending doctors/nurses at this government hospital. We have already submitted an urgent memorandum to the Maharashtra chief minister demanding that a minimum of Rs. 50 lakh must be given immediately to each family who lost a child in this horrendous hospital fire (attached). We have further demanded that an open and thorough investigation of this shocking incidence must be initiated immediately by an independent body and all individuals found guilty must be given exemplary punishment for their deadly failure to protect these vulnerable children.
More than defenseless 90 patients were burnt to death in a similar fire incidence at a premier private hospital (AMRI Hospital) in Kolkata in 2011. The AMRI hospital has reopened (after few months closure) with business as usual and all those who were responsible for this deadly fire are roaming free as the case against the powerful doctors and AMRI hospital is still languishing in the court with no justice in sight despite bold promise for expedited justice declared by the Bengal chief minister, Ms. Mamata Banerjee, almost a decade ago.
We hope and pray that the Maharashtra government will bring equitable justice immediately and will not play politics by trying to shield the culprits who are responsible for this ghastly death of the newborns at the Bhandara hospital to bring some solace for the ill-fated parents. PBT will move public interest litigation (PIL) before the appropriate legal forum if the government remains silent and fails to bring equitable justice for the hapless families in Bhandara.
For the first time since its inception two decades ago, PBT held its first ever virtual conference with supporters and members across different states in India and USA via Zoom on Wednesday (December 30, 2020). PBT founding-president, Dr. Kunal Saha, hosted the online meeting from his residence in Ohio, USA as many victims of medical negligence narrated their personal long-drawn fight for justice. Among the agendas for the coming 2021, expedited disposal of all complaints of medical negligence in consumer courts across India, financial exploitation of the hapless patients by the powerful private hospitals and doctors as well as thorough cleansing of corruption within the medical regulatory authorities including the medical councils were highlighted at this virtual seminar. It was also announced that PBT head office in Kolkata has started normal functioning following closure for the past 7-8 months due to the COVID pandemic.
A memorandum was sent to the West Bengal government after the Mamata Banerjee-led state health department started to widely publicize a seemingly impossible promise that all residents of the state will be covered under a free “Swasthya Sathi” scheme that would pay up to Rs. 5 lakh each year for medical cost. This sweeping claim by the Trinomul-government just prior to the assembly election next year appears to be nothing more than a political gimmick because it would be economically almost impossible since while the entire healthcare budget of the state is merely Rs. 11,000 crore, covering each one of the almost 10 crore Bengal residents itself may require more than hundreds times or more than the entire budget. PBT also highlighted the shocking failure of the central government to provide proper treatment and timely vaccine against COVID-19 and vouched that they will bring more PILs on these failure of the state and central government before the High Courts and Supreme Court on behalf of the ordinary people of India. PBT also called all conscientious citizens, other bona fide NGOs and honest doctors to step forward and join our battle for medical justice.
In regard to the investigation of complaints against Section 8.4 of Medical Council of India (MCI) “Code of Ethics & Regulations, 2002” has unequivocally stated, “Decision on complaint against delinquent physician shall be taken within a time limit of 6 months”. While most complaints of ethical misdeeds or medical negligence against doctors are dismissed by doctors-only members of the medical council, other victims who are in search of medical justice after losing their loved ones remain in endless darkness as their complaints collect dust at the council office without any investigation.
For the past many years, PBT has been helping countless victims of medical negligence by guiding them to lodge appropriate complaints/appeals with the MCI to bring the errant doctors to justice. Unfortunately, most of the allegations against doctors never see the day of justice as these complaints/appeals languish at MCI. Ironically, the newly formed MCI seems to have waken up to take up the pending complaints/appeals against doctors. However, MCI’s recent action is even more shocking and it unravels an oblique motive on part of the top medical regulatory body to frustrate the victims and shield their errant medical colleagues. PBT has received copies of a letter sent this month by MCI to many victims whose appeals against negligent doctors were filed more than one year ago. Although Section 8.4 has stipulated that medical council must complete investigation of accused doctors within a maximum period of 6 months, the letter sent by MCI to the alleged victims itself proves that the medical council sat absolutely idle for more than one year before even looking into the appeal because the council has asked the victim to provide phone and WhatsApp numbers of the accused doctors “within 3 days” (see an example of the letter received from MCI below).
How a victim of medical negligence is supposed to get personal phone/WhatsApp number of doctors against whom he has already lodged a complaint of medical negligence? MCI should have full personal information of all registered doctors in India. MCI can also simply call the hospital involved and get the contact number of the accused doctors. Instead, they remain stone silent for more than one year in blatant violation of the law and then asked doctors’ phone numbers from the complainant/victim. There can be no argument that such candidly biased letter from MCI is likely to drain the victims of medical negligence endlessly frustrated and perhaps give up all hope to fight for medical justice. Will the health ministry and newly formed National Medical Commission wake up for the sake of the millions of hapless patients and victims of medical negligence in India?
The West Bengal Clinical Establishments Regulatory Commission (WBCERC) issued an advisory directing that although private hospitals may not refuse admission of COVID-19 or other patients even if they are unable to pay required hospital costs at the time of admission, hospitals have a right to discharge and send shift the ailing patients away if they fail to pay the hospital dues 12 hours after admission. In other words, if a struggling COVID-19 patient is brought to a private hospital at 3 pm in the afternoon and the hospital demands an advance treatment cost of Rs. 50,000/- (maximum they can ask at admission under the WBCERC advisory), the patient will have to be admitted but the sick patient may be thrown out of the hospital in the middle of the night after 3 am if the patient-party has still not paid the hospital bill of Rs. 50,000/-. This new regulation framed by the WBCERC has already caused panic in the ordinary people of West Bengal who are still reeling under the savage assault of COVID-19 pandemic.
Supreme Court of India has repeatedly held that healthcare is a fundamental right of all citizens of India and no doctor/hospital may refuse treatment of a patient for failure to pay medical bills. Reports of private hospitals and nursing homes forcing defenseless COVID-19 patients to pay highly inflated medical bills appear on a regular basis in the news. Allegations of COVID-19 patient left unattended and died before glitzy private hospital only because he was unable to pay the hefty medical bill have also appeared in the newspapers. The new provision made by the WBCERC that even an admitted patient undergoing treatment may be kicked out of the hospital only 12 hours after admission if his family fails to pay the heavy cost of treatment is inhumane, immoral, unlawful and unconstitutional that is likely to bring more pain, suffering and possibly death for the hapless patients in West Bengal. PBT filed a formal representation with the WBCERC yesterday asking the Commission to immediately repeal/cancel this shocking provision in the new advisory. PBT will bring this before the court if the WBCERC remains silent and does not provide a reasonable response soon.
Veteran doctor Sukumar Mukherjee, the most notorious physician who was found guilty by the Apex Court of India not only for medical negligence but also for gross unethical behavior in the well-known Anuradha Saha wrongful death case, has been selected by the West Bengal Health Regulatory Commission to head an 8-member doctors’ Committee to probe private hospitals for alleged unethical activities including fleecing innocent COVID-19 patients with exorbitant and inflated hospital bills. Dr. Mukherjee has been blatantly pushed by the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinomool-Congress government in West Bengal to restore his tainted public image ever since he was found the main culprit doctor responsible for Anuradha’s death by the Supreme Court of India in two historic judgments, first in 2009 and then in 2013 when the Apex Court awarded highest ever compensation (Rs. 11.5 crore rupees) against Dr. Mukhrjee and other doctors as well as AMRI Hospital in Kolkata. While holding Dr. Mukherjee guilty for gross medical negligence, Supreme Court also made scathing observations against Dr. Mukhrjee’s overtly corrupt and unethical behavior. For example, Apex Court made blistering comments against Dr. Mukhrjee as:
“….the manner in which Dr. Mukherjee attempted to shirk from his individual responsibility both in the criminal and civil cases made against him on the death of the claimant’s wife is very much unbecoming of a doctor………” (para 143 in 2014 SCC 1, 384)
and again, “….we are inclined to mention here that Dr. Mukherjee has shown utmost disrespect to his profession…” (para 144 in 2014 SCC 1, 384).
Selection of Dr. Mukherjee against whom Apex Court has made such scathing comments about his moral character to head a Committee for investigation of other doctors/hospitals clearly undermines the sanctity of the highest court of the land and it overtly violates Article 144 of Indian Constitution that has stipulated that all Indian authorities, civil and judicial, shall act in the aid of the Supreme Court. PBT has submitted an urgent appeal with the Health Commission chairman, a retired Calcutta High Court Judge, Asim Kumar Banerjee, seeking immediate removal of Dr. Mukhrejee from the ethics investigation Committee.
Despite most international medical studies found absolutely no evidence in support of using anti-malarial drug, Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) to treat COVID-19, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), top governmental organization to frame guidelines to fight the ongoing COVID pandemic in India, recommended that HCQ may be used to combat COVID-19 based on anecdotal evidence. The World Health Organization (WHO) had to prematurely terminate a multinational clinical trial (“Solidarity Trial”) to test the role of HCQ in COVID-19 because of major studies showing potential danger and no benefit of HCQ in COVID-19. India was also a participant country in The Who-initiated “Solidarity Trial” for HCQ. PBT also moved a PIL last April before the Supreme Court of India against such irrational use of HCQ that can cause serious harm and even death of COVID-19 patients due to adverse drug effects. The Apex Court disposed of the said PIL vide a final order/judgment on April 30, 2020 with specific direction that ICMR must review and respond to the concerns raised in PBT’s PIL.
In response to PBT’s specific concerns about reckless and indiscriminate use of HCQ in COVID-19 patients, ICMR’s assistant director general, Dr. R. Lakshminarayanan, sent a response via email yesterday (August 3) in which ICMR has made several astounding claims including:
1) That ICMR would abide by WHO’s decision to end HCQ “Solidarity Trial”. Ironically, the letter from ICMR stated that they WILL stop HCQ trial suggesting that COVID hospitals still continue to use HCQ even though WHO has stopped the trial last month and perhaps innocent COVID-19 patients continue to suffer or die due to continued treatment with HCQ.
2) That although ICMR declared that valid “informed consent” must be obtained from COVID-19 patients by doctors who plan to use “off-label” HCQ by explaining the potential dangers and side-effects of the drug before starting HCQ therapy, ICMR has claimed that they have no responsibility to assure that appropriate instructions for obtaining “informed consent” are sent to all doctors and hospitals who plan to use HCQ. ICMR has claimed that this responsibility lies with the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare. Ironically, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has remained absolutely silent to repeated appeals from PBT about “informed consent”.
3) That ICMR has no knowledge how many COVID-19 patients may have suffered or died due to adverse reaction to the unproven HCQ therapy.
4) That ICMR has recommended HCQ only for the “treatment of mild COVID-19 in high-risk patients”. However, it is common knowledge today that unproven HCQ therapy is used widely by doctors across India to combat the spread of COVID-19. In fact, HCQ tablets are indiscriminately distributed to all unsuspecting railway passengers and devious political leaders are freely encouraging slum-dwellers to take HCQ in the most reckless and dangerous manner.
PBT has also written to other governmental authorities demanding details of the harm done to COVID-19 patients as a result of HCQ therapy and will move the appropriate court of law again if the authorities and COVID medical centers remain silent.
Supreme Court of India suo motu started a public interest litigation (PIL) on the clinical management of COVID-19 patients and disposal of dead bodies after watching disturbing news of horrific conditions of COVID-hospitals from the media at large (W.P. Civil No. 7/2020; In Re: Proper Treatment of COVID-19 patients and dignified handling of dead bodies in the hospitals etc.). In a landmark order last month, Apex Court has directed all state health departments to implement sweeping and immediate changes on various aspects of COVID-19 treatment including:
1) Health secretary of each state must immediately establish an expert “Committee” for supervision of all government and private COVID-19 treatment centers and submit a report within 7 days.
2) All COVID-19 hospitals must install CCTV camera in the ward to continuously monitor treatment of COVID-19 patients.
3) All COVID-dedicated hospitals must allow “one willing attendant of the patient” in the hospital premise to stay around the clock for help of the patient.
Over the past months, PBT has also received many complaints from the family of surviving or dead COVID-19 patients about the abysmal treatment of the admitted patients and inhumane treatment of the dead bodies. PBT has already brought this deplorable situations to the notice of the hospital authorities. In view of this historic order by the Apex Court, PBT has submitted appeals to the health secretaries of all states in India bringing attention to the state government and seeking detail information about the implementation of the specific directions passed by the Supreme Court including the formation of the experts’ “Committee” and their reports about functioning of the COVID-19 hospitals (see memorandum submitted to W.B. Health Secretary below).
Supreme Court of India took up a public interest litigation (PIL) last month on it’s own motion (Suo Motu) citing the pitiful condition of COVID-19 patients who are being treated as per ICMR guidelines with little or no accountability. The Apex Court made scathing criticism of the present situation and issued notices to the central government as well as to all state health secretaries with stringent directions including:
i) That state health secretaries must constitute an expert Committee of doctors and other experts for supervision of all government and private hospitals treating COVID-19 patients.
ii) That “Chief Secretary of each State shall ensure that such Committees are immediately constituted and start their work within a period of seven days”.
iii) Chief health secretary shall take steps to install CCTV cameras in the ward in all COVID-19 hospitals to facilitate monitoring of clinical management of the patients.
iv) All COVID-dedicated hospitals “shall permit one willing attendant of the patient in the hospital premise who can remain in an area earmarked by the hospital”.
PBT has sent appeals to every state health departments across India demanding immediate implementation of the Apex Court’s directions with three specific questions:
A) When did the State government constitute the expert COVID-19 Committee as directed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court?
B) Who are the members of the said COVID-19 Committee?
C) More than three weeks have passed since the Hon’ble Apex Court was pleased to pass the said Order. How many inspection reports have been filed by the said Committee so far? Please provide us with copies of the said report(s) for validation by independent medical experts.
PBT move new PIL if the state governments remain silent and do not implement all the specific recommendations made by the Hon’ble Apex Court.
While disposing of the writ petition (PIL) filed by PBT challenging the “off-label” and unscientific use of anti-malarial drug, Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), in COVID-19 patients, Hon’ble Apex Court passed an order on 30th April, 2020 directing the Solicitor General that the issues in this PIL may be placed before ICMR and ICMR should consider the points raised in this PIL. Almost two and half months later, ICMR has remained virtually silent and refused to provide specific answers to the important questions raised by PBT, such as whether “informed consent” is obtained from every COVID-19 patient before starting HCQ after full disclosure of the potentially life-threatening side-effects of HCQ. Last month, the World Health Organization (WHO) prematurely stopped the clinical trial (“Solidarity Trial”), a multinational clinical trial to test the role of HCQ against COVID-19. Many hospitals across India also participated in the “Solidarity Trial” to test the role of HCQ against COVID-19. But it widely reported that doctors across India are still using HCQ, as advised by ICMR, in patients infected with the coronavirus. PBT submitted a representation with ICMR and Ministry of Health & Family Welfare asking immediate response to the following 4 specific questions about the use of HCQ in COVID-19, in accordance to the order passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court:
1) Is ICMR still recommending HCQ as treatment and/or prophylaxis for COVID-19 patients, hospitalized or at home, whether symptomatic or asymptomatic?
2) Has ICMR continued to participate in the HCQ arm of the “Solidarity Trial” in contrast to the WHO’s decision to stop?
3) Has ICMR issued necessary instructions to doctors/hospitals across India to obtain valid “informed consent” from COVID-19 patients before initiating HCQ therapy?
4) How many COVID-19 patients have died or suffered injuries due to adverse reactions to HCQ therapy?
PBT has given 7 days time to ICMR/MOHFW to answer the 4 questions and if they still remain silent, a “contempt” or other legal action may be taken against Indian government’s top agencies to control the COVID-19 pandemic.
The General Medical Council (GMC), central regulator for medical practice in United Kingdom (UK), has decided indefinite suspension of medical registration of a Pakistan-based surgeon, Mohammad Iqbal Adil, pending full investigation for dubbing the global COVID-19 pandemic as a “hoax”, reported today by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) (see below). The COVID-19 pandemic that has ravaged the world for the past six months is caused by a novel SARS CoV-2 virus. Although no curative treatment or vaccine is currently available at the present time against COVID-19, most people infected with SARS CoV-2 virus either remain without any symptom or recover completely with proper supportive medical management. However, more than five hundred people have already died globally due to COVID-19 as reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) – most of these victims are elderly or had pre-existing conditions. India currently ranks third in the world, only after USA and Brazil, in the number of COVID-19 patients. The country has been in virtual lock down status for the past more than three months.
Ordinary people are naturally confused and scared of COVID-19 for obvious reason and the pandemic is frequently made even worse by widespread misinformation and rumors of magical cure by quacks, unqualified politicians, religious gurus and even ignorant qualified medical doctors. For example, inspired by unsubstantiated claim from Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), anti-malarial drug Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) has been widely promoted with the misguided notion that it can prevent or cure COVID-19. PBT has already moved the Apex Court against the reckless use of HCQ in COVID-19 patients. Nothing can be more reckless and unethical when a registered medical practitioner starts claiming that COVID-19 is not a serious disease but a “hoax”. We salute the prompt and pre-emptive action by GMC to suspend the license of Dr. Adil for spreading the rumor that COVID-19 is a “hoax” because it is unethical for any doctor to spread untrue or unscientific rumors about diseases. Unfortunately, medical councils in India have never shown the courage to take meaningful punitive action against the unethical or negligent doctors – instead of protecting the vulnerable patients, medical councils in India have always worked to shield their errant and unethical medical colleagues.
An ongoing randomized controlled clinical trial (RCT) to test the role of Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) in the treatment or prevention of COVID-19 was prematurely halted by the British scientists by calling it “Useless” as they found no evidence of any positive effects of this anti-malarial drug against the coronavirus (see below). The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also issued a strong “warning” to all doctors planning to use HCQ to treat COVID-19 patients about serious and potentially life-threatening adverse effects of HCQ including increased rate of heart failure and death. PBT also moved a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Supreme Court seeking implementation of life-saving precautionary measures and mandatory “informed consent” before Indian hospitals and doctors start using HCQ on vulnerable COVID-19 patients as touted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). The Apex Court disposed of the said PIL with specific direction that ICMR should consider the points raised in PBT’s PIL. Unfortunately, ICMR has not responded to PBT’s repeated requests seeking what steps, if any, they have taken to protect the COVID-19 patients who are being treated with the potentially dangerous and unproven HCQ. PBT also sent a legal notice to ICMR and Ministry of Health & Family Welfare last week that unless they provide satisfactory response to the use of HCQ in COVID-19 patients, PBT will have no other option but to move the court of law once again.
“Rogi Divas” (“Patients’ Day”) will be observed, like previous years, to commemorate the death of all victims of medical negligence including the death of Anuradha Saha (who died on May 28, 1998 due to gross medical negligence by several top Kolkata doctors) and to empower the Indian patients and their families who have been suffering and paying heavy price, sometime with their lives, to the hitherto “untouchable” and enormously influential doctors and hospitals. Each year on May 28, PBT hold public rallies to celebrate “Rogi Divas” but due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, no public meetings will be held this year. PBT requests all victims of malpractice and conscientious citizens of India to commemorate the loss of innocent lives due to reckless practice of medicine by a part of the devious doctors and greedy commercial hospitals and to come forward and raise voices against medical negligence and healthcare corruption by joining hands with PBT. Contact PBT head office in Kolkata at 9831983670 or 8240209992 for more information.
Two separate studies published in the latest issue of the top international medical journal, British Medical Journal (BMJ), finds that there is absolutely no benefit for COVID-19 patients in different stages of the disease who are treated with the anti-malarial drug Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ). While a large study from China with patients with mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19 showed difference in the outcome whether treated with or without HCQ, a separate study by researchers from France with COVID-19 patients in severe condition with pneumonia also showed absolutely no benefit from HCQ. In fact, this study reported adverse cardiovascular side-effects in the group that was treated with HCQ. An editorial entitled “Lack of efficacy of Hydroxychloroquine in COVID-19” published in BMJ today (May 19) discussed these two latest studies and the apparent lack of any effect of HCQ for COVID-19 patients (see below, also available at the link: https://www.bmj.com/content/bmj/369/bmj.m2018.full.pdf). The BMJ also carried online an analysis (“Rapid Response”) by PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, on the continued irrational use of HCQ in COVID-19 putting the lives of COVID-19 patients at potential danger of developing heart failure or sudden death as warned by major international cardiac societies as well as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (see Dr. Saha’s article below, also can be viewed at https://www.bmj.com/content/369/bmj.m1844/rapid-responses).
PBT already lodged a PIL in the Supreme Court seeking direction to the ICMR to implement precautionary measures for COVID-19 patients treated with HCQ to prevent injuries or death as a result of unproven HCQ therapy. The Apex Court directed the Solicitor General to place the PIL before the ICMR for consideration. Earlier this last week, ICMR sent an evasive response without taking any effective measures and PBT has written back to ICMR asking them to take concrete steps to protect COVID-19 patients treated with “off-label” HCQ.
In response to PBT’s PIL and direction from the Supreme Court of India about “off-label” use of unproven anti-malarial drug, Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and antibiotic Azithromycin (AZM), assistant director of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), highest authority to regulate treatment of COVID-19 in India, sent a letter dated 16th May, 2020 to answer PBT’s concerns for widespread use of HCQ and/or AZM in COVID-19 patients that many recent scientific studies have shown that it can cause serious adverse effects resulting increase in heart failure and sudden death (see ICMR letter below). In its PIL before the Apex Court, PBT had sought that based on the recent reports about HCQ/AZM, treatment guidelines issued by ICMR must include essential precautionary measures to protect the vulnerable COVID-19 patients and doctors must obtain valid “Inform Consent” from the patient/patient’s family before starting the experimental HCQ/AZM therapy after full disclosure of the potential dangers of these drugs to the patient/patient’s family.
Although ICMR appears to have agreed that consent from the COVID-19 patients may be necessary before putting them on with “off-label” HCQ/AZM, ICMR has made an astonishing claim that all COVID-19 patients have automatically given an “Implied Consent” when they are treated in Indian hospitals following the published “Treatment Guidelines” because somewhere in these guidelines a generic statement exists to “Communicate early with patient and family”. Supreme Court of India has defined “Informed Consent” in numerous decisions including the landmark judgment in Samira Kholi vs. Dr. Prabha Manchanda & And. (2008 SCC 2, 1) in which the Apex Court has categorically held that doctors must obtain “informed consent” before any treatment or surgery after explaining full details about all pros and cons, especially risks involved and other treatment options available, in regard to the new therapy. It is astounding that the highest medical body in India (ICMR) feels that all COVID-19 patients have automatically given “Implied Consent” to be subjected to any experimental therapy without their knowledge about the risks involved in the experimental drugs. PBT has already submitted a rebuttal-response to ICMR’s outlandish letter and demanded immediate clarification and appropriate action in regard to the experimental and potentially dangerous treatment with “off-label” HCQ/AZM.
It was widely reported last month that large number defective kits from China to test COVID-19 were supplied to many laboratories in West Bengal and other states by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) producing many “false negative” results to detect the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. False negative test results not only give false low number of infected patients, it will obviously also cause more spread of COVID-19. In fact, ICMR withdrew these spurious test kits after many state governments raised objections, virtually admitting that the Chinese kits they procured to test COVID-19 were substandard. But the crucial question that ICMR must answer is why they procured defective kits from China and how this problem was not detected until the substandard kits were supplied to laboratories across India and produced large number of “false negative” results?
PBT wrote to World Bank president last month about this potentially enormous corruption with spurious COVID-19 test kits and asked World Bank for a full investigation of this sordid incidence and exemplary punishment for the individuals involved with this alleged corruption because World Bank provides substantial funding to combat COVID-19 in India. In a letter dated May 6, 2020, World Bank Country Director in India, Mr. Junaid Kamal Ahmad, has stated that they have transferred PBT’s complaint against the allegedly defective test kits for COVID-19 to ICMR because the procurement of these kits did not involve any World Bank financing (see PBT’s complaint and World Bank response letter below). We will keep a close watch on this fiasco with COVID-19 test kits and hope that ICMR and other Indian authorities will take immediate measures to investigate and bring justice to all the people responsible for this massive failure to test COVID-19. Ironically, PBT president Dr. Kunal Saha, was hired by the World Bank as an HIV/AIDS specialist, to investigate similar allegations of bogus HIV test kits across India in 2007-2008. The final report of this investigation by World Bank published in 2009 found widespread corruption with HIV test kits. A criminal case was started in 2006-2007 by Indian authorities against several individuals from Monozyme India for supplying thousands of spurious HIV test kits that perhaps resulted in transmission of the deadly HIV to countless innocent patients through tainted blood. Unfortunately, these criminal cases have remained in a deep slumber till now showing unthinkable travesty of justice. PBT also moved several PILs against National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) in High Court and Supreme Court of India.
Dr. Pradip Kumar Mitra, retired director of Institute of Post-graduate Medical Education & Research (IPGMER) and SSKM Hospital, premier state-run super-speciality medical center in Kolkata, was recalled this week and posted as the chief “Coordinator” for the Management and Containment of COVID-19 Pandemic (MCCP) by West Bengal government. Dr. Mitra has a grossly tainted background as he was directly involved in hatching a dangerous plan, along with two other highly influential doctors, Trinomool MLA and W.B. Medical Council president Dr. Nirmal Maji and Dr. Rajendra Pandey, to perform a pet dog’s dialysis using the dialysis machine at SSKM hospital in 2015. Although this horrific “dog dialysis” eventually did not materialize as the secret plan was leaked at the last moment resulting in huge public uproar and media frenzy, the reckless idea to perform a dog’s dialysis using the machine used by numerous human patients everyday underscored the outrageously unethical mindset of the the three doctors including Dr. Mitra.
PBT raised strong protest and lodged a formal appeal with the Medical Council of India (MCI) seeking disciplinary action and cancellation of medical registration of the three accused doctors. After a long and arduous investigation, MCI passed a final order last year holding all three doctors guilty for hatching the plan of dog-dialysis at SSKM Hospital and deemed their act as strongly “condemnable”. However, considering that the actual dialysis of the dog did not happen, MCI issued a warning against the three doctors including Dr. Mitra (see MCI Order below).
We are shocked to see that the same Dr. Mitra who has shown absolutely no moral character who did not hesitate to indulge into reckless medical act putting the lives of the innocent patients at serious peril by planning a dog’s dialysis at the SSKM Hospital, now chosen to the top post to combat the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in West Bengal. Two other highly tainted doctors, Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee who is well known for his reckless and negligent act causing death of Anuradha Saha as held by the Supreme Court of India and an American doctor, Dr. Thomas Frieden who was arrested by New York police and pleaded guilty for sexual assault in 2018, were also included in Mamata Banerjee’s so-called “Global Advisory Committee” to regulate COVID-19 for Bengal residents. PBT has filed a formal appeal today with the West Bengal Governor to step in and take immediate measures for removal of the tainted doctors from the powerful committees in charge of controlling the COVID-19 pandemic in the state.
As controversy erupted with selection of a convicted physician, Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee, to the “Global Advisory Board” (GAB) to frame medical plans for controlling the COVID-19 pandemic in West Bengal, a second member of the elite GAB, a US-based physician, Thomas Frieden, is also reported to have an equally checkered past. Dr. Frieden was arrested by New York City police for alleged sexual assault on 24th August, 2018 and charged with serious criminal sexual offenses. Dr. Frieden eventually pleaded guilty in 2019 for a lesser charge in order to avoid long jail sentence. This news was widely publicized by major media groups in USA including New York Times and ABC News etc.
Obviously, Dr. Frieden has questionable integrity and moral character to be appointed to the highly powerful medical body (GAB) with final authority to decide how to combat COVID-19 for protection of Bengal residents. Ordinary people of West Bengal would not condone doctors with tainted moral characters to be in charge to protect them from COVID-19. The obvious question is why Mamata Banerjee government nominate doctors with problematic background in formidable positions in GAB. The best explanation for the Mamata Banerjee government would be that perhaps Dr. Frieden was not properly vetted by the government before he was chosen for GAB. Other more sinister explanation would require a thorough and transparent investigation by an independent body. PBT submitted a memorandum to the Bengal CM yesterday informing the tainted history of Dr. Frieden and urging the chief minister to immediately remove Dr. Frieden from GAB to restore public trust for the hapless patients and ordinary citizens of West Bengal (see below).
PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha appeared “in person” through “live” videoconferencing from USA to argue before a 3-judge Supreme Court bench of Justices R.V. Ramana, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and B.R. Gavai in the PIL filed by PBT seeking changes to the widespread recommended “treatment guidelines” for use of unapproved anti-malarial drug, Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and broad-spectrum antibiotic, Azithromycin (AZM) in COVID-19 patients. American Heart Association (AMA) and American College of Cardiology (ACC) as well as Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) have recently issued warnings that use of these drugs may cause serious adverse effects leading to heart failure and death, especially in patients with other cardiovascular conditions like high blood pressure or ischemia. The US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) also issued a drug “safety” warning last week about the “off-label” use of HCQ and AZM in COVID-19 patients. In this PIL, PBT has also sought that even if COVID-19 patients are given the experimental HCQ/AZM, they must be informed about the potential “adverse effects” of these drugs and doctors must obtain “informed consent” before using HCQ/AZM on COVID-19 patients.
After hearing Dr. Saha and the Solicitor General (SG) of India, Mr. Tushar Mehta, Apex Court based an order directing that PBT can email all necessary materials to the SG within 2 days and then SG will bring it to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for investigation and necessary action in regard to the concerns raised by PBT. PBT has already filed all the relevant documents to the SG via email and hope that the ICMR will take appropriate precautionary measures, as advised by the international medical organizations, in regard to the use of HCQ/AZM to prevent injuries or death of the COVID-19 patients (see news below).
The British Medical Journal (BMJ) today published online a “Rapid Response” written by PBT president and USA-based HIV/AIDS scientist, Dr. Kunal Saha, in regard to the rampant use of anti-malarial drug, Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), in treatment of COVID-19 patients in India (see below, also available at the link: https://www.bmj.com/content/369/bmj.m1432/rapid-responses). The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week issued an extraordinary “Drug Safety Communication” to warn all medical professionals about the potential dangers that may be associated with the use of HCQ including cardiac failure and death. Major International medical groups including American Heart Association (AHA), American College for Cardiology (ACC) and Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) have also warned against the use of HCQ in COVID-19 patients. PBT has already filed a PIL in the Supreme Court of India seeking directions for mandatory precautionary measures in COVID-19 treatment centers to prevent serious injury or death of patients receiving the unproven therapy with HCQ. PBT has also sought that “informed consent” must be obtained prior to starting HCQ treatment on COVID-19 patients after full disclosure of the potential adverse effects of this drug. This PIL is expected to come up for hearing via videoconferencing before the Apex Court soon.
Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in USA issued a stark warning today on the use of anti-malarial drug, Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), either alone or in combination with Azithromycin (AZM), in the treatment of COVID-19 patients despite president Trump’s vociferous promotion of HCQ (see FDA release below). PBT already lodged a writ petition (PIL) in the Supreme Court against the widespread use of HCQ and AZM in COVID-19 patients without any warning or precautionary measures in place to tackle the serious adverse effects of the drugs. The PIL is expected to be taken up by the Apex Court soon.
Apart from issuing cautions for adverse effects of HCQ in unsuspecting patients, FDA has also categorically held that “Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have not been shown to be safe and effective for treating or preventing COVID-19”. The “treatment guidelines” published by ICMR and Health Ministry has unequivocally advised that most seriously ill COVID-19 patients in ICU may be treated with a combination of HCQ and AZM based mostly on anecdotal evidence. PBT already sent several appeals to the health ministry urging them to make necessary changes in the treatment guidelines to keep close monitoring of the patients treated with HCQ and AZM as recommended by the American Heart Association and other major international medical bodies. Unfortunately, Health Ministry remained in complete silence forcing PBT to move the PIL. PBT also submitted a memorandum with Health Ministry and ICMR today to take immediate and appropriate measures based on the FDA warnings today to protect the hapless COVID-19 patients treated with HCQ and/or AZM.
A multi-center study with 368 hospitalized COVID-19 patients in VA hospitals across US was released today underscoring the serious risks involved for “off-label” use of anti-malarial, Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and/or broad-spectrum antibiotic, Azithromycin (AZM) in the treatment for COVID-19 patients. The online release of this study found no evidence of any benefit for using HCQ and AZM, either alone or in combination, to prevent serious illness requiring ventilatory support for COVID-19 patients. More alarmingly, the study also finds that use of HCQ alone was associated with an “increased overall mortality” of COVID-19 patients. Based on these frightening data, the researchers have recommended that until the results of other ongoing prospective, randomized, controlled studies are published showing definite benefits for “off-label” use of HCQ and AZM, these drugs should not be recommended for widespread use in COVID-19 patients. The study may be viewed online at the link: https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.04.16.20065920v1 (copy also attached below). In view of these latest findings, PBT submitted an urgent appeal today to the Health Ministry and ICMR urging them once again to take immediate steps to prevent widespread use of HCQ and/or AZM in the treatment of COVID-19.
A public interest litigation (PIL) was filed last week by PBT seeking directions that Indian healthcare authority must take necessary precautionary measures against potential serious injury and death due to the adverse effects for “off-label” use of HCQ and AZM in COVID-19 patients and that doctors must obtain “informed consent” by candid disclosure of the potential risks associated with these drugs before using these medicines on COVID-19 patients. Our PIL was based on already published scientific studies that warned about possible serious side-effects including death with the “off-label” use of HCQ and AZM in COVID-19 patients. The US study published today provides further support to our pending PIL which is expected to come before the Hon’ble Apex Court soon.
Treatment guidelines issued by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFQW) have recommended “off-label” use of highly controversial and unproven combination therapy with an anti-malarial drug, Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and broad-spectrum antibiotic, Azithromycin (AZM) for seriously ill ICU-bound COVID-19 patients. Serious warnings were issued last week through an urgent joint bulletin by American Heart Association (AHA), American College of Cardiology (ACC) and Heart Rhythm Society (HRS) in USA. Similar warnings for potential irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia), heart failure and possible death were also published last week by Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ). Also, a massive multi-national study with more than 300,ooo patients in USA, UK, Germany, Spain, Netherlands and Japan reported last week of increased “cardiac mortality” in patients receiving MCQ and AZM.
The AHA/ACC/HRS bulletin cautioned doctors using MCQ and AZM on COVID-19 patients to take six specific precautionary therapeutic measures to prevent adverse effects and potential death, especially for patients with pre-existing heart conditions. PBT appealed repeatedly to the Health Ministry to make necessary changes in the treatment guidelines for COVID-19 patients receiving MCQ and AZM and to urgently implement the precautionary measures as advised by the top international cardiac expert bodies (AHA/ACC/HRS/CMAJ) but no action was taken. Compelled to file an urgent PIL in SC today, PBT has sought for immediate implementation of the precautionary measures advised by AHA/ACC/HRS. PBT has also sought that proper “informed consent” must be taken from COVID-19 patients before “off-label” use of MCQ and AZM after explaining all the risks involved as potential adverse effects of these drug combination.
Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee is known all over India as the worst negligent physician against whom highest ever compensation (Rs. 11.5 crore) in Indian medical history was awarded by Supreme Court of India for causing death of Anuradha Saha, wife of PBT president Dr. Kunal Saha. While awarding the highest compensation in 2013, Apex Court also held Dr. Mukherjee as the most reckless physician whose was personal conduct was also so unethical that it was “very much unbecoming of a doctor”. Contrast the scathing Supreme Court’s view to what Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee thinks about the same Dr. Mukherjee today as the state and whole country is ravaged by COVID-19. Mamata Banerjee just dubbed Dr. Mukherjee as “Global Best” in half-page paid advertisements (in tax-payers’ money) in all major dailies in West Bengal today as she lauded the tainted doctor and selected him (and few others) to an elite Board of experts to advise the state government how to control the coronavirus pandemic (see below).
Can the most reckless, negligent, and unethical doctor also be the “global best” to combat COVID-19? Is there no other competent doctor with intact character in West Bengal who is also knowledgeable about coronaviruses? Ironically, Dr. Mukherjee is not a virologist or known to have ever performed viral research as he was a regular internist and retired professor in medicine. Most importantly, by branding a doctor as “Global Best” who was already found guilty for gross medical negligence by the Apex Court, did Bengal CM not clearly violate Article 144 of Indian Constitution that mandates that all authorities, civil and judicial, shall act in aid of the Supreme Court? Ordinary people and countless victims of medical negligence in West Bengal already know the answers to these burning questions.
As US president Donald Trump on a wild run openly promoting widespread use of anti-malarial drugs, Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine, to combat COVID-19 without any scientific evidence and against the advice of top researchers at Center for Disease Control (CDC) and National Institute of Health (NIH), Indian government has gone a step further as Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has recommended to use Chloroquine/Hydroxychloroquine as a prophylactic measure by all healthcare workers to prevent COVID-19. Although Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine are long known and used for their anti-malarial effects, these drugs are not without potentially serious side-effects on the hepatic, nervous, renal and cardiac systems including prolongation of the QT wave and cardiac arrhythmia. On the face of Trump’s baseless claim for using Chloroquine/Hydroxychloroquine in COVID-19 patients, American Medical Association (AMA) president and other prominent doctors in USA have issued a stark warning that indiscriminate use of these drugs may even be responsible for needless death of patients (see attached).
Going a step further than using Chloroquine or Hydroxychloroquine in the treatment of COVID-19 patients that has little or no scientific evidence, ICMR has recently recommended that all healthcare workers should be treated with these potentially toxic anti-malaria drugs as a measure to protect against the coronavirus. We are not aware about any published scientific study in support of prophylactic use of Chloroquine/Hydroxychloroquine against COVID-19 even though the potential danger of these drugs including possible death is well-known to medical science for a long time. In order to stop promotion of unscientific and irrational use of toxic drugs in any medical condition, PBT has sent a memorandum to the IMCR director requesting to reconsider and change their advice for wide-scale prophylactic use of Chloroquine/Hydroxychloroquine for all health workers in India (see below).
In view of the looming threats from the highly contagious coronavirus (COVID-19) for our community, wild rumors and myths are spreading across the regular and social media many of which are absolutely without any scientific basis. Best medical information in this regard can be viewed at the website of US Center for Disease Control (WWW.CDC.GOV). Some of the important features for better control of the spread of coronavirus are posted below for the common people – all instructions are directly copied from the CDC:
How to Protect Yourself
Older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness.
Know How it Spreads
• There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
• The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.
• The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
o Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
o Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
• These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
Take steps to protect yourself
Clean your hands often
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
• If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick
• Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
Take steps to protect others
Stay home if you’re sick
• Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care. Learn what to do if you are sick.
Cover coughs and sneezes
• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
• Throw used tissues in the trash.
• Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Wear a facemask if you are sick
• If you are sick: You should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. If you are not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then you should do your best to cover your coughs and sneezes, and people who are caring for you should wear a facemask if they enter your room. Learn what to do if you are sick.
• If you are NOT sick: You do not need to wear a facemask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a facemask). Facemasks may be in short supply and they should be saved for caregivers.
Clean and disinfect
• Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
• If surfaces are dirty, clean them: Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
Most common EPA-registered household disinfectants will work. Use disinfectants appropriate for the surface.
• Diluting your household bleach.
To make a bleach solution, mix:
o 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water
o 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water
Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application and proper ventilation. Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted.
• Alcohol solutions.
Ensure solution has at least 70% alcohol.
Dr. Nirmal Maji, a powerful minister in Mamata Banerjee government and sitting president of West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) did not appear before the Special Court (for MLAs/MPs) in Barasat, Kolkata to face criminal charges in two separate cases as his lawyers claimed that Dr. Maji was too ill with “knee problems”. The two cases against Dr. Maji were filed in 2018 by PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, for alleged money laundering (under IPC section 409) and criminal defamation (IPC section 500/501). Dr. Maji has already surrendered in both cases as he remains free on bail. The first case emerged from Dr. Maji’s role in hatching a shocking plan to dialysis of a pet dog at the state’s premier tertiary care center, SSKM Hospital in Kolkata while the second case emerged after it was found out that Dr. Maji was using funds from state medical council to cover expenses related to his personal litigations. The Special Court has adjourned both cases to 21st March, 2020.
In a historic decision passed by the division bench president by the chief justice in response to a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by PBT president Dr. Kunal Saha, Calcutta High Court has directed the West Bengal Bar Council (WBBC) to investigate the complaint lodged by Dr. Saha and to take appropriate disciplinary action against the leaders of West Bengal Bar Association (WBBA) for organizing a massive strike by lawyers that crippled regular court services between March-May, 2018. Supreme Court of India has time and again held that people who are associated with essential and emergency public services such as doctors and lawyers may not go on “strike” holding the ordinary people at ransom. Based on this Apex Court’s categorical directions against “lawyers’ strike”, Dr. Saha lodged a formal complaint with the WBBC against the Bar Association president and secretary for calling the illegal strike. After Bar Council remained absolutely silent without initiating any investigation, Dr. Saha filed PIL in Calcutta HC that was disposed of last week by the division bench that may have major implications on future strikes by advocates (see HC order below).
Last year, Oxford University Press published a book “Healers or Predators?”, a compilation of insightful articles by prominent medical personalities and social activists. A review of this book was published this week focusing on several critical areas of Indian healthcare delivery system that must be reformed for any improvement of the falling standard of medical ethics and doctor-patient relationship even after the enactment of the far-reaching National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill by Indian government (see the review at this link https://www.downtoearth.org.in/reviews/iatrogenesis-unbound-review-of-healers-or-predators–67614).
Among the most important problem areas in Indian medical system, wide-spread corruption in health regulatory bodies including medical councils and a bungling medical justice system where cases of medical negligence are kept languishing for decades in the Consumer Courts even though the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (under which cases of medical negligence against doctors/hospitals are decided) contemplated that all cases in Consumer Courts should be decided as fast as possible within a period of only six months. As several authors have echoed, until healthcare corruption is eradicated and medical justice system, both by the peers in medical councils and by the consumer courts) is reformed assuring the ordinary people for speedy and equitable justice against the negligent medicos to restore public trust, the sagging image of doctor-patient relationship will not change.
In a major development that may have far-reaching impact on the disruption of hospital services through frequent calls for “doctors’ strike” by Indian Medical Association (IMA) and other influential medical groups, a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Mr. S.A. Bobde in Supreme Court of India admitted a “Contempt” petition and issued notices against the IMA and Union of India. This Contempt case was filed by PBT following a nation-wide “doctors’ strike” called by the IMA earlier this year to demonstrate solidarity to the strike called by doctors at NRS Hospital in Kolkata. Countless patients in government hospitals, many from poor families, suffered pain, injuries and even deaths because of disruption in hospital services due to this strike by doctors.
In 2014, another three-judge bench in the Apex Court passed a final judgment (in response to a separate PIL against the IMA by PBT) holding that doctors should not resort to “strike” under any condition and medical councils must take disciplinary action against the striking doctors. Despite such categorical direction from the highest court of the land, IMA has continued to call “doctors’ strike” holding the vulnerable patients at ransom in order to settle their scores against the government to satisfy valid (e.g. against mob violence) as well as purely selfish (e.g. seeking raise in salary) grounds. Although PBT has always objected to any physical attacks on our healers, no patient deserves to suffer or die as a result of strike by doctors. This unprecedented “Contempt” petition was filed by PBT to bring justice for the hapless patients of India (see the news below).
Ashwani Diwan and his family were devastated when his 61-year old father was declared dead last December by doctors at Apollo Gleneagles Hospital in Kolkata after several months of hope for a recovery and a whopping more than Rs. 60 lakh hospital bill. There were numerous evidences of negligent and unethical treatment by the Apollo doctors. Like so many other victims of medical negligence, they also came to PBT seeking help in their quest for justice for Ashwani’s departed father. Formal complaints against several doctors including Dr. S.N. Singh (Neurosurgeon) and Dr. Tanweer Shahid (Oncologist) have already been lodged before various authorities including the medical council.
Last week, Ashwani received a letter from the office of Fox & Mandal, an influential law firm in Kolkata, demanding 20 crore rupees on behalf of Dr. Singh and Dr. Shahid allegedly for posting some comments about the wrongful death of his father on his personal Facebook page. Like all other democratic countries, citizens of India are also fully protected for freedom of speech and expression under Article 19 of Indian Constitution as held repeatedly by Supreme Court of India. Everybody has a right to express his or her opinion freely and without any fear even though his/her opinion may be contradicted by others and may eventually be proven to be wrong by a competent court of law. On the other hand, nobody has a right to threaten or retaliate claiming astronomical sum of money through gross abuse of the process of law in order to muzzle the voices of victims of alleged medical negligence as appear in this case against the hapless Diwan family. PBT strongly denounces such sinister attempts by the two Apollo doctors and has already sent a protest letter to the Fox & Mandal asking to to refrain from their effort to extract Rs. 20 crore from Diwan family (see news below).
Dr. Nirmal Maji, powerful minister of the ruling Trinomul-Congress party and president of West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) along with Dr. Rajendra Pandey (sitting vice-chancellor of Health University in West Bangla) and Dr. Pradip Kumar Mitra, ex-Director of Health Services in West Bengal, hatched a sinister plan to perform dialysis of a pet dog putting potential and serious danger to the lives of the numerous patients who undergo dialysis in the same machine back in 2015. Although a possible medical calamity was avoided because of last minute intervention by some other doctors that eventually stopped the dog’s dialysis on that occasion, public outrage erupted against this gigantic scandal by the top medical leaders in Kolkata as highly publicized by the local and national media more than 4 years ago. However, like most other scandals by influential political leaders in India, nothing really changed and nobody suffered any consequences as this dog-dialysis scandal went into a slumber.
PBT, through its president Dr. Kunal Saha, raged a long-drawn battle to bring justice to this unimaginable medical fiasco as Dr. Saha lodged complaint with the medical council against Dr. Maji, Dr. Pandey and Dr. Mitra seeking exemplary disciplinary action against the three doctors. After fighting for more than four years for justice during which the complaint was shuttled for numerous times between the state medical council (WBMC) and Medical Council of India (MCI), the central medical council passed a final order last week essentially agreeing with the allegations raised by Dr. Saha and holding all three doctors guilty for orchestrating the plan to perform dialysis of a pet dog at the SSKM Hospital. But shockingly, MCI did not award any real punishment to any of the guilty doctors except issuing a warning that they should not indulge in similar activities in future on the ground that nobody was harmed as a result of the dangerous plan by the three doctors. PBT is planning to challenge the MCI order for their failure to impose any tangible punishment to the three errant doctors that is likely to send a wrong signal to the public at large (see the news below).
The new NMC Act, 2019 was enacted into law last month with publication in the official Gazette as the old Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 was repealed by the government. The Medical Council of India (MCI) was also disbanded as most regular functions of MCI are in limbo including adjudication of appeals (under section 8.8 of old MCI Code of Ethics & Regulations, 2002) by the hapless victims of alleged medical negligence against doctors acquitted by the state medical councils. The section 8.8 (became a law only in 2004 as a result of Supreme Court’s direction in the PIL (SC W.P. No. 317/2000) filed by PBT) was framed to give an opportunity to challenge the victims whose complaint against the errant doctor was dismissed (which is vast majority of the cases) by an often biased and one-sided decision by doctor-members in the state medical council.
But section 8.8 stipulate that any challenge to the verdict by the state medical council must be made within a maximum period of 60 days. There is no functioning MCI for the past more than 30 days. Under section 27(d) of the new NMC Act, although an aggrieved victim may lodge an appeal within 30 days to the Ethics & Medical Registration Board against an adverse decision by the state medical council, but no Ethical Board exists at the present moment and there is little hope that any such Board would be constituted in the near future as even the selection of the 33 NMC members (who in turn would form the Ethical Board) seems to be in a turmoil, possibly due to political posturing and infighting within the health ministry. But the obvious question – soon 60 days will be over for any victim whose complaint of medical negligence was dismissed by the state medical council – where will they go to appeal against any biased decision by the state medical council? The game is rigged by the influential and wealthy hospitals/doctors who would be shielded as before. The new NMC Act, 2019 is nothing more than putting an old wine in a new bottle.
Indian Medical Association (IMA) has called nation-wide “doctors’ strike” on Wednesday (July 31, 2019) in protest of the proposed National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill even as a “Contempt” case against the IMA leaders for calling another “strike” last month is pending before the Apex Court. PBT recently filed the “Contempt” against IMA after the medical association called a nation-wide doctors’ strike on June 17, 2019 in support of Kolkata doctors’ protest against alleged mob violence.
In 2012, PBT filed a PIL in the Supreme Court (W.P. No. 253/2012) against the IMA after several patients died following a “doctors’ strike” that disrupted hospital services in Delhi and across India. In a landmark judgment dated 11th November, 2014, a three-judge bench of the Apex Court held that strike by doctors “may amount to negligence warranting action for misconduct“. Supreme Court also held that doctors should not go on a strike for any reason. Five years later, IMA has continued to ignore the Apex Court’s direction by joining strike to settle their score against the government taking the defenseless patients at ransom. While the proposed NMC Bill may have serious flaws, PBT strongly denounces the “doctors’ strike” tomorrow because it is wrong, both legally and morally.
For the past several years, PBT president Dr. Kunal Saha, a permanent resident of USA, travels to India every year to appear and argue in consumer courts on behalf of victims of medical negligence who come to PBT to help them find medical justice. Supreme Court of India had already said categorically that non-advocates and NGOs are permitted to argue on behalf of others before the consumer courts in India. PBT lodged a contempt case against National Consumer Forum (NCDRC) in 2012 for not framing rules for non-advocates to appear for victims of medical negligence and Apex Court had directed NCDRC to frame such rules to allow so that non-advocates and NGOs can represent consumers including victims of medical negligence as “authorized representative” in NCDRC, State and District Consumer Courts.
When Dr. Saha came last December and appeared to represent victims of medical negligence before the West Benga State Consumer Commission, he was viciously attacked by large number of lawyers who wanted him to be ousted from the court. Police complaint was lodged and a writ petition was filed in Calcutta High Court in which notice was issued to the State Consumer Court. When Dr. Saha appeared before the Kolkata Consumer Court last week for an alleged victims of medical negligence, he again faced brutal attack from the lawyers appearing for the accused doctor and hospital who demanded that Dr. Saha be barred from the consumer court. The Kolkata State Consumer Court passed an order directing the protesting lawyers to file a formal application seeking to bar Dr. Saha on next day of hearing on 17th July, 2019 (see Order below). But when this matter came up on 17th July, 2019, the same lawyers wanted more time to file the application knowing well that Dr. Saha lives in USA and cannot be staying in India for indefinite period of time. However, court has given more time for the advocates (for doctor/hospital) to file application. Other cases where Dr. Saha has appeared to plead for the victims of medical negligence, advocates for doctors/hospitals have routinely started to clamor with the unlawful claim that Dr. Saha should not be allowed to appear for victims of medical negligence. PBT and Dr. Saha has given sworn affidavits many times in the past stating that all the help that they have been providing victims of medical negligence including Dr. Saha’s travel and stay in India and his personal appearance in court are done completely free of cost at PBT and Dr. Saha’s own expense. The main question that writ at large : Why are the powerful advocates representing the accused doctors and hospitals are fighting to stop Dr. Saha to argue in court on behalf of victims of medical negligence? Does the powerful medical lobby including the Indian Medical Association (IMA) have any role in this shocking attacks against Dr. Saha?
Outlook (July 10, 2019)A new contempt of court petition was filed by PBT against the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and Ministry of Health for the nation-wide doctors’ strike last month (see news below). Doctors went on a nation-wide strike on 17th June, 2019 to express solidarity to the Kolkata doctors who were continuing strike to protest alleged attack on some junior doctors at NRS Medical College by some friends and relatives of a patient who died due to alleged medical negligence. Although PBT never condones physical violence on doctors and hospitals even in the event of genuine medical negligence, innocent patients should not be held at ransom by doctors’ strike that disrupts hospital services and brings endless pain, suffering and death to the ailing citizens.
Following a “doctors’ strike” in 2012 when a number of patients had died in Delhi, PBT filed a PIL against the IMA in the Supreme Court (SC W.P. No. 253/2012) when the Apex Court had categorically held that doctors should not go on strike under any condition. Despite such unequivocal observation from the Supreme Court, IMA showed no regard to the Apex Court’s judgment when they called another nation-wide doctors’ strike last month in a clearly contemptuous display against the Apex Court. PBT has filed this PIL this week to hold IMA and Health Ministry in contempt of the Apex Court. PBT president Dr. Kunal Saha is in India to plead for victims of medical negligence in different consumer courts and it is expected that he will appear before the Supreme Court to argue the “contempt” case in the next couple of weeks.
In a brazen display of shamelessness and gross abuse of power, Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee hailed the most tainted Indian physician, Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee, who was found guilty for gross medical negligence causing death of Anuradha Saha by the Supreme Court of India in the highest-ever malpractice in Indian medicolegal history, and gave him a “life-time achievement award” plus Rs. 2 lakh cash reward in a massive public ceremony to celebrate “Doctors’ Day” on Monday (July 1) (see picture below as Dr. Mukherjee sitting next to Ms. Mamata Banerjee). While holding Dr. Mukherjee responsible for Anuradha’s death with scathing criticism in a historic judgment in 2009 and awarding highest compensation in 2013, Apex Court also dubbed Dr. Mukherjee’s behavior as a man “unbecoming of a doctor” who has brought “great disrespect to the medical profession”. A case is currently pending in the Supreme Court against Mamata Banerjee (SLP Civil No. 33178/2012; Kunal Saha vs. Mamata Banerjee & Ors.) for her role in choosing Dr. Mukherjee as the “chief adviser” for the state government. Another PIL against the state-run Calcutta University will also come up for final hearing on 18th July for giving an honorary D.Lit. to Dr. Mukherjee in violation of Article 144 of Indian Constitution that has a mandate that all authorities, civil and judicial, must always act in aid of Supreme Court. Attempts to glorify a tainted doctor like Dr. Mukherjee who was held as a negligent and unethical doctor by the Apex Court undermines sanctity of the Supreme Court of India in the eyes of the ordinary people.
After one week of continuous “doctors’ strike” that virtually crippled entire medical system in West Bengal and across India causing endless pain, suffering and even death of many patients, doctors have finally withdrawing the strike to resume regular hospital services on Tuesday. Following two separate PILs filed by PBT in 2006 and 2012, Supreme Court of India declared categorically that doctors have no right to go on “strike” for any reasons and medical council should take disciplinary action against any striking doctors. Without caring the Apex Court’s repeated directions, IMA and other powerful medical groups have frequently resort to “doctors’ strike” to settle their scores with the government and hospital authorities. While PBT has always denounced any attempt of physical violence against doctors, disruption of hospital services through strike by doctors is immoral, unethical and against the law.
IMA needs to appreciate the root cause of occasional physical violence against doctors by ordinary, peace-loving and law-abiding citizens after witnessing shocking death of their loved one due to gross medical negligence, real or perceived. A complete lack of trust on doctors for getting justice by the medical regulatory authority (medical council) and inherent flaws in the judicial system with endless delays in legal cases against the powerful medicos have resulted in a hopeless situation for the ordinary victims of medical negligence. Doctors’ strike is over for now, but who will pay for those victims who have already lost their loved ones due to this doctors’ strike. PBT is going to ask the court to direct the government compensate the victims. PBT is also planning to lodge a new “Contempt of court” case against the IMA for blatant violation of the Apex Court’s order. The peril of doctor-bashing and “doctors’ strike” are likely to recur again until a complete overhaul is done with the medical regulatory system to regain public trust on our healers.
Calcutta High Court has directed the West Bengal State to file a comprehensive report within 7 days as to what steps the government is taking to end the ongoing “doctors’ strike” in Kolkata that has crippled medical services in hospitals across the state for the past 5 days. The court has also reminded the doctors that they have taken Hippocratic Oath and should not join in any strike to deprive the patients from treatment. This order was passed on Friday (Jun 14) in response to a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by PBT that has also claimed that Supreme Court has already declared (in 2014 in response to another PIL filed by PBT in the Apex Court) that doctors have no right to go on a strike and if they do, disciplinary action must be taken against the striking doctors. PBT president Dr. Kunal Saha personally appeared on behalf of PBT to argue this PIL on Friday (see news below).
In the meantime, under pressure from ongoing strike and disrupted medical services, Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee has appointed four senior doctors headed by Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee, the grossly tainted and convicted by Supreme Court for Anuradha Saha’s death, to negotiate with the striking doctors. Ever since Apex Court found Dr. Mukherjee guilty for medical negligence causing death of Anuradha Saha and awarded highest compensation in Indian medical history in 2013, Banerjee government has been trying desperately to promote Dr. Mukherjee to repair his dented public image. This 85-year old Kolkata doctor was given the highest state award in medicine in 2014 (“Bangabhibushan”), awarded an honorary D.Lit. by the Calcutta University in 2018 and was also chosen as the “chief advisor” for the government. Separate cases are still pending against the Bengal government for gross abuse of power at the present moment.
Biplab Pal, 32-year old only son of a poor mother, Bula Pal, died in 2014 from alleged botched gall-bladder surgery at R.G. Kar Medical College & Hospital in Kolkata. After the victim’s family came to PBT seeking help, a complaint was lodged before the W.B. State Consumer Forum. Court sent numerous notices to the premier government medical college and accused doctors (Drs. P. Mukherjee, S. Lahiri and Tanusree Chakraborty) over a period of 3-4 years but the accused doctors and R.G. Kar hospital simply ignored these notices and remained absolutely silent. Finally, a judgment was passed by the State Commission after going through the merit of the case holding the doctors/hospital guilty for medical negligence and allowed a compensation of Rs. 46 lakh.
Ironically, soon after the judgment was delivered and it was reported by the local media, R.G. Kar Medical College challenged the verdict before the National Consumer Forum (NCDRC) on the ground that natural justice was denied as the judgment was passed ex perte. NCDRC passed a final order last month remanding the case back to the State Commission to give a final opportunity to the accused doctors/hospital to file their defense. However, NCDRC also held that the accused chose not to appear before the State Commission despite receiving repeated notices and imposed a penalty of Rs. 2 lakh for their non-appearance including Rs. 1 lakh against R.G. Kar Hospital and Rs. 25,000/- against each of the 4 accused doctors. PBT president Dr. Kunal Saha personally appeared on behalf of the complainant-mother Mrs. Bula Pal and argued that even if the case is remanded back to the state commission, the deliberate and devious ploy on part of a government medical college/hospital and the accused doctors for their non-appearance only to harass the victim must be dealt with exemplary punishment. The Rs. 2 lakh penalty against the accused doctors/hospital for non-appearance in a medical negligence case is one of the highest award of this nature in Indian medico-legal parlance (see news below).
PBT celebrated “Patients’ Day” (Rogi Divas) on Tuesday (May 28) with an open public forum in Kolkata where victims of medical negligence came from distant places to tell their personal unfortunate stories of death and injuries from negligent treatment by doctors and their long struggle to find justice due to the inherent flaws with long delays in the consumer courts and mostly corrupt medical councils that only try to shield their errant medical colleagues without caring for the lives of the vulnerable patients. “Rogi Divas” is celebrated every year on May 28, the day Anuradha Saha died during a social visit to India due to gross medical negligence by several senior Kolkata doctors including Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee who is still siting in top government position and AMRI hospital in Kolkata. “Rogi Divas” is to bring hope for all patients and victims of medical negligence and to spread public awareness about patients’ rights established under law including the right to obtain medical record with 72 hours and right to know about hospital cost before initiation of any treatment. PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, came to Kolkata from his permanent residence in USA and gave the key note lecture on this occasion. Dr. Saha is expected to argue before the consumer courts on behalf of several victims and to participate in several public interest litigations (PILs) before the High Courts and Supreme Court (read the news below).
Like previous years, People and victims of “medical negligence” all over India will observe “Patients’ Day” (Rogi Divas) on Tuesday (May 28) in demand of medical justice for all and to establish fundamental rights for every patient. “Patients’ Day” has been observed every year to commemorate death of Anuradha Saha on this day in 1998 due to gross medical negligence of three so-called senior Kolkata doctors including Dr Sukumar Mukherjee. PBT will hold an open public forum on this day at 4 PM at Calcutta Press Club in Kolkata. PBT president Dr. Kunal Saha himself will be present at this program. All people and victims of medical negligence are cordially invited to join this program in Kolkata. For more information call 9831983670 or 9836706952.
According to Bloomberg news, at least 20% of candidates from all political parties running in this year’s election in India are either convicted or facing serious criminal charges including murder, rape and extortion. In a recent landmark judgment, a 5-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court of India has passed categorical direction that for any candidate facing criminal charges, respective political party must declare the criminal background of their candidate in “widely circulated newspapers” and must also give “wide publicity in the electronic media”. Apex Court further held that the criminal background of candidates must also be clearly declared on the website of the respective political party (Public Interest Foundation & Ors. vs. Union of India & Ors.; 2019 SCC 3, 224).
Has anybody seen any advertisements in any major newspaper or TV channel by any political party declaring that their candidate has a criminal background? The Trinamool-Congress (TMC) website has no information about the criminal background of the well-known figure of Mr. Madan Mitra, running in a by-election in Bhatpara (near Kolkata). Mr. Mitra is one of the primary accused in the highly publicized Saradha Chit Fund scam and was released on bail but still facing the serious criminal charges for alleged money laundering. But criminal candidates are plenty in all major political parties including BJP, Congress, CPM. After doing some research, PBT has compiled a list of 12 candidates from BJP/TMC/CPM/Congress contesting election in West Bengal and lodged a formal complaint with the Election Commission for taking action against the political parties for blatant violation of the election rules and directions issued by the Supreme Court of India (see PBT’s complaint letter below).
Maharashtra State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (MCDRC) has held Maruti Nursing Home, Platinum Hospital in Mulund, Mumbai and 4 doctors including Dr. Mihirgiril Goswami, Dr. Asafaque Dolare (Physician) and Dr. Satyen Mehta (Spine Surgeon) guilty for ethical violation and medical negligence causing death of 48-year old Mrs. Kamini Barkur following a botched surgery that eventually resulted in sepsis and awarded a total compensation of Rs. 19 lakh against the doctors/hospitals. The victim, a school teacher, was treated for cervical spondylitis for which a botched surgery was performed and the patient was also given wrong injection without proper attention to its contraindication, according to the reported judgment (see the entire judgment below).
While holding the doctors/hospitals guilty for medical negligence, the court has also come down heavily on the deliberate and unethical behaviors by the doctors/hospitals that allegedly concocted the treatment record and harassed the victim’s family from receiving the medical records as required by law. In this regard, the court has categorically held, “Failure to provide copy of medical record within 72 hours of the application itself is deficiency in service. Non maintenance of proper medical record is the act of omission”. Section 1.3 of MCI Code of Medical Ethics & Regulations has mandated that all doctors/hospitals must provide entire medical records to the patient-party within a maximum time of 3 days and that all doctors/hospitals must maintain medical records for at least a period of 3 years.
As promoted by PBT, all patients and patient-parties must always file a written request to the treating doctor/hospital to obtain medical records following discharge of the patient or unfortunate death from medical negligence. If any hospital/doctor refuses to provide the medical records after receiving a written request from the patient-party, they may be held guilty for “deficiency in service” as held by the Maharashtra Consumer Court.
Last week, Calcutta High Court division bench of Chief Justice and Justice Arijit Banerjee tagged PBT’s public interest litigation (PIL) against lawyers’ strike with a pending case initiated by advocate groups against alleged police atrocity in a court in Howrah and fixed both cases for hearing on Wednesday (May 8). The entire court system in West Bengal has been completely shut down for the past two weeks as the agitating advocates started an indefinite strike in demand of immediate suspension of the accused police officers. The PIL was filed by PBT against an unlawful lawyers’ strike that crippled Calcutta High Court services for more than 2 months in 2018.
When Mr. Ranjit Sarkar, PBT executive committee member and authorized agent went to the chief justice’s court room this morning to plead in this PIL on behalf of PBT (since all advocates joined the ongoing lawyers’ strike), large number of rowdy advocates physically heckled him and prevented him from approaching the bench as both the cases were adjourned till May 13. PBT has issued a press statement condemning this shocking and unruly behavior by licensed advocates. Ordinary people and justice-seekers pay the ultimate price when our law-protectors become law-violators (see below). PBT is planning to move the Apex Court that has repeatedly declared that lawyers have no right to strike causing endless harm and misery to the ordinary litigants.
The entire justice delivery system in High Court and lower courts across West Bengal remains virtually closed bringing the hapless justice-seekers endless miseries as advocates continue an indefinite “cease-work” in protest of alleged attack by police in a court in Howrah more than two weeks ago. Many ongoing cases filed PBT including several public interest litigations (PILs) also suffer because of this extended cease-work/strike by the lawyers. While PBT strongly denounces any abuse of power by the police on the ordinary people or advocates, strike or cease-work by advocates on any ground is wrong because the ultimate price for disruption of regular court services are paid only by the defenseless people and justice-seekers.
PBT filed a PIL (W.P. No. 150/2018; Dr. Kunal Saha & Anr. vs. West Bengal Bar Council & Ors.) against a similar extended lawyers’ strike in 2018 (in demand of appointment of more judges) that also crippled judicial services in Calcutta High Court for more than 2 months. While the PIL is still pending for final adjudication, West Bengal Bar Council and other lawyers’ groups started the present indefinite cease-work/strike on ground of alleged police brutality. Although a PIL was initiated suo motu by Chief Justice of Calcutta HC to probe the alleged police atrocity, advocate-groups including WBBC started an indefinite cease-work despite call from the Chief Justice to the advocates not to abstain from work.
Taking up the pending PIL against “lawyers’ strike” filed by PBT, division bench of Chief Justice and Justice Mr. Arijit Banerjee heard PBT’s case on May 3 (represented by Mr. Ranjit Sarkar, PBT governing body member since no lawyer was willing to appear) and held that in view of the previous declaration by the Supreme Court reported in (2003) 2 SCC 45 that any “strike (by advocates) is contrary to the law“, our PIL will be jointly heard with the PIL against alleged police atrocity on May 8, 2019. It is expected to be a major legal showdown next week when two contrasting PILs (one against abuse of power by police and one against the unlawful lawyers’ strike) will be heard together by the Chief Justice court in Calcutta HC (see Calcutta HC Order below).
A division bench presided by Calcutta High Court Chief Justice T.B. Radhakrishnan has declared that Medical Council of India (MCI) and state medical councils (SMCs) must take appropriate disciplinary action if a complaint is lodged against any doctor associated with “doctors’ strike”. Supreme Court of India previously said that doctors have no right to go on “strike” under any condition in response to a PIL filed in 2012 by PBT. Echoing the Apex Court Judgment, Calcutta High Court directed last week that complaint must be lodged with the medical council against the striking doctors for violation of the law and appropriate disciplinary action must be taken by the medical council against the striking doctors.
This historic judgment was delivered after PBT filed another PIL against West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) following a state-wide “doctors’ strike” called by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) (Bengal branch) in 2017 that crippled the healthcare services and brought endless pain, suffering and even some deaths of the ordinary patients. PBT moved the PIL after WBMC failed to take any disciplinary action against the striking doctors. While PBT always supports lawful demonstrations by doctors to express legitimate grievances of the medical community but doctors should not go on “strike” to settle their score against the government by holding the defenseless patients at ransom. (Read the Judgment below)
A new public interest litigation (PIL) was filed in Calcutta High Court seeking ban on publishing any picture of Mamata Banerjee, Bengal chief minister or any other minister in paid government advertisements as Supreme Court of India had previously directed that except for the President and Prime Minister, no advertisements by the government may publish any picture of chief minister and other ministers. Unfortunately, despite such categorical direction from the Apex Court, large number of advertisements are published in newspapers and TV on a daily basis with prominent picture of the CM and other ministers that implicitly, if not explicitly, promote the ruling political party at taxpayers’ expense. These brazen advertisements published daily by the ruling government clearly violates Supreme Court’s direction and undermines sanctity of the highest court of the land. While PBT remains as a completely neutral non-political entity and other state ministers may also be involved in similar gross abuse of public fund in promoting political agenda of other political parties, this new PIL was filed in Calcutta High Court against the wrongful action by the Trinomul-Congress (TMC) led government in West Bengal. This PIL is likely to come up for hearing on Friday (March 29).
Anyone browsing through the IMA website today will come across on their home page (www.ima-india.org) an enormous picture of the newly elected IMA president and Trinomul-congress Rajya Sabha member, Dr. Santanu Sen standing close next to a smiling ex-MCI president and biggest medical mafia in Indian medicine (as dubbed by India Today), Dr. Ketan Desai (see the pic below). Ketan Desai, perhaps the most well-known name in Indian medicine (for all the wrong reasons) was first removed from his post of MCI president in 2001 by Delhi High Court that held MCI as a “den of corruption”.
Although Desai managed to recapture the post of MCI president again in 2009 using influence through his medical cronies and political connection, he was caught red-handed by CBI through a sting operation while taking bribe from a private medical college in 2010. After spending almost 7 months in jail, Desai was eventually released on bail and recently, criminal charges against him were dropped by CBI on a purely technical ground for lack of “sanction” (under section 197 CrPC). So, Desai became a free man last year without ever facing trial to decide his case on merit. PBT is planning to take possible legal action against CBI and Desai for this colossal failure in the justice delivery system.
Nevertheless, it is shocking to find Ketan Desai back again at the helm of Indian medicine as the newly elected IMA president is shamelessly and openly patronizing the most disgraced medical leader in Indian medical history as evident from the overt glorification of Ketan Desai on the IMA home page. It may not be too surprising to find our devious medical leaders bending backwards to promote the corrupt MCI ex-president, but what about the other almost ten lakhs ordinary Indian doctors many of whom may still maintain honest characters. How long these “good” Indian doctors can afford to remain silent against this atrocious attempt by IMA to glorify and reestablish a corrupt medical man like Ketan Desai?
British Medical Journal (BMJ), one of the premier international medical journals in the world, just published an article holding PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, as “Role Model” for his long-drawn selfless fight against medical negligence and pervasive healthcare corruption in India (see article below). As BMJ has reported, the relentless battle against medical corruption in India by Dr. Saha started with the tragic death of his young wife (Anuradha Saha) from gross medical negligence by several senior doctors during a social visit to India in 1998. Although Supreme Court of India eventually held these doctors and AMRI Hospital in Kolkata guilty for causing Anuradha’s death and awarded highest-ever compensation (Rs. 11.5 crore) in 2013, Dr. Saha has continued his fight to cleanse the rot in Indian medicine and helping the hapless victims of medical negligence in India through the charitable organization, People for Better Treatment (PBT), that he established in 2001.
Although permanently settled in USA for the past almost 30 years, Dr. Saha frequently visits India (at least twice each year) and appears to argue in courts on behalf of the victims of medical negligence and also public interest litigations (PILs) against medical corruption. One of the major aspects in these legal fights has been Dr. Saha’s relentless attempts to bring Dr. Ketan Desai, ex-MCI president and biggest medical mafia in Indian medical history, to justice. Dr. Desai was caught red-handed by the CBI in 2010 for taking bribe from a private medical college but recently, all criminal cases against Desai were dropped by the CBI on a flimsy technical ground. PBT and Dr. Saha are in the process to move the court to bring justice to Dr. Desai and the arbitrary action by the CBI.
Calcutta High Court Justice Tapabrata Chakraborty issued show-cause notice on Friday (Jan. 18) against West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) Registrar and Returning Officer, Mr. Manas Chakraborty, in response to a contempt of court petition filed by PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, for disobeying court’s earlier order (see report in Statesman below). In August 2018, HC had directed WBMC to print new ballots with Dr. Saha as a candidate for election of new WBMC members as the 5-year term of the present members expired last November.
Dr. Saha had alleged that WBMC had rejected Dr. Saha’s application to contest in the council election because of personal animosity on the flimsy ground that Dr. Saha had written his name in the nomination paper as Kunal Saha and not as “Saha Kunal” which is the way it is written on Dr. Saha’s registration certificate. Calcutta HC agreed with Dr. Saha and held that there was no reason to dismiss Dr. Saha’s nomination paper on this obvious anomaly with his name and directed the Returning Officer (Registrar) to print new ballots with Dr. Saha’s name as a candidate. Interestingly, no election for new WBMC was held till now as the matter has been stayed by another bench of Calcutta HC. While there is wide-spread hostility among the members of the medical community toward PBT and Dr. Saha for their role in helping the victims of “medical negligence” in India, Dr. Saha contested in the council election last time to stem the corruption in the election process that has been rigged in the past by influential doctors linked with the ruling political party. The present WBMC president, Dr. Nirmal Maji, is a sitting MLA for the ruling TMC party in West Bengal who was promoted recently to be the Minister of Labour by Bengal CM, Mamata Banerjee, even after he was indicted for serious criminal offense including extortion of funds from the medical council (IPC Section 409).
Dr. Nirmal Maji, president of West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) and a prominent political-medical leader in West Bengal who was recently promoted by Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee to be the state minister of labor, surrendered on Tuesday (Jan. 8) before the Special Judge (for MLAs/MPs), Mr. Somnath Chakraborty, charged with serious criminal allegations under Indian Penal Code (IPC) including Section 409 (“breach of trust by a public servant”) and Section 463 (“forgery”). Later, he was released on bail with the next day of hearing fixed on 2nd March, 2019 (see news below).
This shocking criminal case for alleged extortion of public funds from the office of the WBMC by Dr. Maji to pay for his personal legal expenses was filed by PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha after PBT was able to obtain serious incriminating evidences against Dr. Maji. Dr. Maji is already facing another criminal case for “defamation” (IPC Section 500) which is ready to go to a trial. Punishment under IPC Section 409 may be imprisonment that may extend up to 10 years. PBT has filed a memorandum with Bengal CM urging her to remove Dr. Maji from the post of WBMC president and minister of labor until he is exonerated from these serious criminal allegations.
Eighteenth anniversary of PBT will be celebrated at 3 PM on Sunday (December 30) at Rotary Sadan in Kolkata (next to Nehru Children’s Museum) where victims of alleged medical negligence will tell their stories of maltreatment and struggle for getting medical justice. An open discussion will be held by distinguished guests along with PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, who has come, like every past years, to attend this momentous occasion.
Following day, i.e. Monday (December 31) at 1 PM a massive public protest rally has been organized in front of West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) office at 1B-196, Sector III, Salt Lake, Kolkata 700106. This public demonstration will be held in demand of speedy justice against negligent doctors and also seeking immediate removal of WBMC president and local leader of the ruling TMC party, Dr. Nirmal Maji, in view of his recent criminal indictment for alleged money laundering from the WBMC office.
All conscientious citizens, victims of medical negligence and “honest” doctors are cordially invited to join us for these two major movements on December 30 and 31st. For more information, contact PBT secretary, Ms. Ratna Ghosh (Tel: 9836706952) or PBV vice-president, Mr. Mihir Banerjee (Tel: 9831983670).
Controversial medical leader, Dr. Nirmal Maji, a sitting MLA for the ruling TMC party and president of West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC), was recently elevated to the post of State Minister in the Department of Labor by Bengal CM, Mamata Banerjee. Over the years, Dr. Maji has been center of numerous controversies including using his influence to orchestrate dialysis of his pet dog at SSKM Hospital, a premier super-speciality government medical center for humans in Kolkata. But earlier this month, a Special Court for MLAs/MPs took cognizance of several criminal charges including “criminal breach of trust by a public servant” (IPC Section 409) and “forgery” (IPC Section 463/464) and directed Dr. Maji to surrender before the court on 5th January, 2019 (see copy of Order below).
These criminal charges were brought against Dr. Maji by Dr. Kunal Saha on behalf of PBT after PBT obtained documents showing that Dr. Maji was using funds from the medical council by hiring lawyers to defend in personal litigation against him which clearly violates IPC Section 409 for criminal breach of trust by a public servant that calls for a non-bailable warrant with a maximum imprisonment of 10 years if convicted. It is shocking that despite being criminally indicted for such serious charges by the Special Court, Bengal chief minister rewarded Dr. Maji by offering him to the coveted post of a State Minister. PBT sent an urgent Memorandum to Mamata Banerjee on Saturday urging her to remove Dr. Maji from the post of a State Minister until he is exonerated from the serious criminal charges in order to restore public trust and confidence in governance of West Bengal.
In a shocking and unbelievable development, a large group of advocates harassed PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha and threatened him with dire consequences if he does not stop from arguing cases on behalf of victims of medical negligence. Ever since Dr. Saha personally argued and won a historic verdict and highest-ever compensation from Supreme Court for the wrongful death of his wife, Anuradha Saha, he has been appearing before the National, State and District consumer forums coming all the way from his permanent residence in USA to argue cases on behalf of many alleged victims of medical negligence. Dr. Saha came to India last week and appeared before the W.B. State Consumer Forum today to argue for a victim, Abhijit Banik, whose young wife died from alleged medical negligence following delivery of a child.
For some reasons, the bench presided by state forum president, Justice Mr. Ishan Chandra Das, refused to allow Dr. Saha to argue on behalf of the victim. Even more shockingly, a large group of lawyers also started to shout against Dr. Saha and PBT. They chased Dr. Saha out of the courtroom and threatened him with dire consequence and other abusive languages. Finally, police escorted Dr. Saha from the court premise. Later, a formal complaint was lodged with the local police station seeking a thorough investigation and appropriate action against the rowdy lawyers who were involved in this deplorable incidence. Law clearly provides that non-advocate and/or NGO can plead cases on behalf of the victims. In 2012, PBT moved a contempt petition against National Consumer Forum (NCDRC) for not framing necessary rules to allow non-advocates to argue on behalf of ordinary people including victims of medical negligence after Apex Court gave specific direction in this regard. PBT will move the higher courts against today’s decision by the W.B. Consumer Forum not to allow Dr. Saha to argue medical negligence cases.
In a major development in our battle against corruption, judge in a Special Court in Barasat for MPs/MLAs took cognizance of several serious criminal charges including “criminal breach of trust by public servant” (IPC Section 409) and “forgery” (IPC Section 463) against Dr. Nirmal Maji, influential MLA of the ruling TMC party and president of West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC), and issued notice today directing him to appear in court on January 5, 2019. PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, lodged this criminal complaint against Dr. Maji last August after obtaining documents showing that Dr. Maji abused his position and utilized public funds from the medical council to pay for his personal legal expenses. Section 409 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) carries an imprisonment of 10 years for criminal breach of trust by any public servant. Dr. Saha’s complaint has alleged that Dr. Maji being the head of WBMC used his official position to pay for attorney fees in his personal legal case in clear violation of legal provision. A court in Salt Lake, Kolkata (within WBMC jurisdiction) already examined Dr. Saha and PBT secretary, Ms. Ratna Ghosh, during Dr. Saha’s last trip to India. Dr. Saha’s lawyer informed the court today that Dr. Saha plans to visit India in December-January to participate in further hearing on this historic criminal case against a sitting medical council president.
The CBI Court in Patiala House, New Delhi recently dropped all criminal charges against ex-MCI president, Dr. Ketan Desai, after CBI lawyers submitted that “sanction” (under Section 197 CrPC) to prosecute Dr. Desai was denied by the Gujarat government. As well known across India, Desai was caught red-handed by CBI in 2010 allegedly for taking a huge bribe from a private medical college in exchange of granting MCI recognition to admit MBBS students. While Desai was in jail for almost 7 months before he was released on bail, MCI was dissolved under unrelenting public pressure. Almost 8 years later, all charges for corruption against Desai have now been dropped by CBI before the start of the trial on a flimsy and technical ground of “sanction” bringing utter shock to the entire medical community.
In order to look into this apparent dubious behavior by the CBI prosecutors, PBT had sought pertinent information (under RTI Act) in relation to CBI’s stance to drop all charges against Dr. Desai. The information sought included simple questions like why a routine “sanction” was denied by the government and why Gujarat government was approached to seek “sanction” instead of the central government as Desai was arrested as the MCI president and not as a government employee in Gujarat. Incredibly, CBI has refused to provide any answer to PBT’s questions with a bogus claim that RTI Act is “not applicable” to the CBI under Section 24 even though the said Act has categorically stated that CBI must provide information under RTI Act if the information pertains to “allegations of corruption” (see CBI response below). Of course, the criminal case CBI filed against Desai was exclusively related to “corruption”. PBT has already lodged an appeal with the Central Information Commission (CIC) against this blatantly biased denial of information under RTI Act. But a bigger question is why CBI is blatantly distorting truth to protect information about Desai? Is the BJP government trying to thwart justice from the most corrupt man in Indian medical history?
Medical Council of India (MCI) was dissolved last month and replaced with a selected group of 7 members Board of Governors (BOG) headed by Dr. Vinod K. Paul allegedly to stop corruption and to pave the way for the proposed National Health Commission (NMC) Bill. But nothing really has changed since BOG has taken over the past several weeks except that MCI website has remained completely defunct denying ordinary citizens of vital healthcare information and the alleged corruption inside MCI has certainly been replaced by sheer anarchy at the expense of the countless victims of medical negligence. PBT has received complaints from victims whose complaints against the delinquent doctors (under section 8.7 and 8.8 of MCI Code of Ethics Regulations, 2002) were scheduled for hearing by the MCI Ethics Committee long before MCI was dissolved. These unfortunate victims never received any information from MCI or BOG that their pre-scheduled hearings were cancelled or postponed due to the evolving situation. Most of these innocent justice-seekers were kept completely in dark until they traveled to the MCI office in Delhi from all parts of India only to find closed doors. It is reported that even the handful of MCI employees who are still there are not working as only few members BOG only attending inside MCI.
We can appreciate the difficulty that the BOG may be facing during this transition period but nothing can be more important for the BOG members to inform the hapless victims who are compelled to travel long distance only in search of medical justice that they should not come to MCI office as their pre-scheduled hearings have been postponed/cancelled. PBT has written to the BOG chairman, Dr. Vinod K. Paul, seeking his immediate intervention to stop this outrageous situation and to compensate the victims who have already attended MCI office on the day of their pre-scheduled hearing. PBT encourages all victims and justice-seekers who have attended or will attend MCI to participate in the Ethics Committee hearings to contact PBT office with their grievances as PBT intends to bring a new public interest litigation (PIL) on this issue if BOG fails to take immediate and appropriate measures.
Over the short period of less than a month, two shocking incidences took place in Indian medical jurisprudence that may or may not be linked with each other but that will certainly have major implications in spread of medical education and healthcare delivery system across the nation. In the first incidence which surprisingly remained unreported by the media, the long-lasting criminal case against Dr. Ketan Desai, ex-MCI president and most well known corrupt medical leader who was caught red-handed by CBI in 2010 allegedly for taking a huge bribe from a private medical college, was freed by the Patiala House Court, New Delhi after CBI submitted that Gujarat government declined “sanction” to prosecute Dr. Desai. “Sanction” (under CrPC Section 197) is a purely technical and routine legal process that may be obtained from the authority before prosecution of a allegedly corrupt public servant. Supreme Court of India has repeatedly held that “sanction” may not be even necessary before prosecution of a public servant involved with corruption. It is also a puzzle why CBI went to Gujarat government, instead of the central health ministry, seeking “sanction” when Dr. Desai was apprehended for taking bribe as MCI president. PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, had West Bengal Medical Council president and several members indicted for “criminal conspiracy” (under IPC section 120b) in 2001 and Calcutta High Court categorically dismissed the same plea of “sanction” adopted by the accused doctors.
The second major incidence took place last month, which was also widely reported by the media, involves BJP government’s abrupt move to dissolve entire MCI and replace it by seven hand-picked doctors (“Board of Governors”) by passing an “Ordinance”. The government has made a bogus plea that since the proposed National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill is likely to be approved soon and since the 5-year term of the elected members of the present MCI would expire soon, MCI is no longer needed. But what would happen if the proposed NMC Bill fail to be passed in the parliament soon? Also, government was well aware for a very long time that the regular term of the present MCI members would expire in late 2018. Why the health ministry did not make any plan in a democratic manner to hold election in time to replace the present MCI members? Instead, they now make this untenable claim that since the present MCI members’ term would end soon, entire MCI must be replaced with a few doctors chosen by the government. The MCI website has been down since this shocking disbandment of MCI. PBT is also deeply concerned about what is going to happen with the victims of medical negligence whose complaints are currently pending before the MCI Ethics Committee. But PBT and ordinary people of India are mostly concerned to imagine whether the two strange and major incidences last month are orchestrated by the one and same corrupt doctors and unscrupulous political leaders in India.
A Judge in the “Special Court” in Barasat, West Bengal created for delivery of expedited justice for criminal complaints pending against corrupt and unscrupulous MLAs and MPs issued charge-sheet under Indian Penal Code (IPC) Section 120b (criminal conspiracy) and Section 500/501 (criminal defamation) against Dr. Nirmal Maji, sitting West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) president and a powerful MLA of the ruling Trinomul-Congress (TMC) party in West Bengal, and fixed December 1, 2018 for further proceedings of the trial (see news below). This unprecedented criminal case started last December after PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, lodged allegations against Dr. Maji for making untrue and slanderous attacks against him following publication of reports regarding Dr. Saha’s complaint to the Medical Council of India (MCI) against Dr. Maji for his role in planning to perform dialysis of his pet dog at the SSKM Hospital, a premier tertiary-care government hospital in Kolkata putting the lives of countless innocent patients at serious risk of contracting new “zoonotic” diseases. Ironically, everybody from the medical community including the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and Mamata Banerjee-led state government in West Bengal remained absolutely silent against the brazen and potentially harmful activity by Dr. Maji until PBT lodged a formal complaint with the medical council demanding cancellation of medical registration of Dr. Maji for his unethical action. A separate criminal complaint against Dr. Maji alleging extortion of funds from the state medical council will be heard by the same court in Barasat next week.
In a remarkable demonstration of delivery of medical justice, Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS), highest legal tribunal to adjudicate complaints of medical and ethical violations against doctors practicing in United Kingdom (UK), has held Dr. Pantula Sastry, an Indian cancer specialist, guilty for professional misconduct and permanently canceled his practicing license in UK for causing death of a 55-year old patient who was suffering from blood cancer. The most striking aspect of this unprecedented decision by the tribunal in UK is that the victim was wrongly treated by Dr. Sastry resulting in her death in a hospital in Mumbai, and not in England (see attached judgment below).
The victim, Sushma Agarwal, was admitted at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital in Mumbai in 2014 under care of Dr. Sastry for Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma when she was treated with bone marrow transplantation without taking minimal precaution leading to death as held by the judges at MPTS. Although victim’s family lodged a complaint against Dr. Sastry with the Maharashtra Medical Council, Dr. Sastry relocated to UK in 2015 and started practicing there. As victim’s son also lodged a complaint against Dr. Sastry with the medical council in UK (GMC), the complaint was referred to MPTS which after a thorough investigation and taking opinions from medical experts came to the conclusion that Dr. Sastry was grossly negligent in his treatment of Mrs. Agarwal in the Mumbai hospital. The Tribunal also casted serious doubt on doctor’s credibility and permanently removed Dr. Sastry’s medical registration by holding that his “conduct was so unacceptable, that it is fundamentally incompatible with continued registration“. Ironically, the complaint against Dr. Sastry that was lodged with Maharashtra Medical Council has still remained undecided even after 4 years. Do we still have to wonder why public has lost complete trust on doctors and medical councils in India?
West Bengal State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (WBSCDRC) in Kolkata passed a major judgment this week holding a general surgeon and local nursing home in West Midnapore, about 150 km from Kolkata, guilty for medical negligence and slapped a compensation of Rs. 20 lakh against the doctor and hospital. Banamali Samanta, a 62-year old poor agriculture-worker, eventually died from sepsis following a botched gallbladder stone surgery by surgeon Dr. T.K. Biswas and absolute lack of post-operative care at Roy Nursing Home in Kotwali, West Midnapore. The consumer court has also held that the surgery was performed without a valid “informed consent” and directed that Dr. Biswas must pay Rs. 15 lakh and Roy Nursing Home would pay another Rs. 5 lakh compensation to the Samanta family within 45 days.
PBT played a central role in bringing medical justice in this case. With no hope to fight for justice against the influential doctor/hospital, victim’s son came to PBT seeking justice for the wrongful death of his father as PBT guided the family to the legal battle starting with obtaining the medical records from Roy Nursing Home. Over the past almost 4 years, PBT also provided support in the court completely free of cost as we do for many victims of “medical negligence” across India. In fact, PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, personally appeared on behalf of the Samanta family and argued before the consumer court last month during his trip to India. Dr. Saha’s compelling argument won the case and brought some solace to the unfortunate Samanta family. A formal complaint seeking disciplinary action against Dr. Biswas was also lodged with the West Bengal Medical Council but even after holding a hearing more than one year ago, the state medical council has still remained silent (see the news below).
Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate (ACJM) at Bidhannagar Court, Kolkata admitted as a “pre-cognizance” stage, a new criminal complaint lodged by PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, against West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) president and sitting MLA of the ruling Trinomul-Congress (TMC) party, Dr. Nirmal Maji, with serious allegations for embezzlement of public money from the state medical council for payment in his personal legal defense. After going through the complaint (C.C. No. 4055/2018; Dr. Kunal Saha vs. Dr. Nirmal Maji) and examining the complainant (Dr. Saha) along with another witness under section 200 CrPC, Ld. ACJM has transmitted the case to the Special Court (under Prevention of Corruption Act) for taking full cognizance and issuance of summons/warrants considering the nature of the allegations, i.e. alleged corruption by a “public servant”. The “Special Court” will hear this unprecedented case on 17th September, 2018.
This case emerged from a separate, pending case for “criminal defamation” (IPC Section 500/501) against Dr. Maji last December following slanderous and untruthful personal attacks by Dr. Maji after Dr. Saha lodged a complaint with MCI seeking cancellation of Dr. Maji’s medical registration as Dr. Maji and two other doctors were involved in planning dialysis of a pet dog at the premier government medical center in Kolkata (SSKM Hospital) putting the lives of countless innocent patients at serious peril. Dr. Maji has already surrendered in that case and was released on bail with the next hearing fixed on 15th September, 2018. During the course of several hearings in this personal defamation case against Dr. Maji between December, 2017 and April, 2018, it was observed that the same attorneys who generally represent the medical council in other cases, were also appearing to defend Dr. Maji even though WBMC is not a respondent or involved in any way with this personal defamation case against the council president. Recently, in response to an RTI application, WBMC has informed that the medical council, and not Dr. Maji, has been paying legal costs to the tune of tens of thousands of rupees to defend Dr. Maji in his personal lawsuit. The criminal complaint lodged against Dr. Maji includes Indian Penal Code (IPC) Section 409 (“criminal breach of trust by public servant”) which is a cognizable, non-bailable warrant case carrying maximum of 10 years imprisonment, if convicted.
In a unparalleled move in the annals of medical council history in India, Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC) has suspended medical registration of 7 medical specialists for an unprecedented 5-year period while another 50 doctors’ registrations were suspended for 1 year each – all for using fake certificates with post-graduate diplomas from the College of Physicians & Surgeons (CPS). The lesser sentence of 1 year suspension was given to 50 doctors for committing the same offense because these doctors pleaded guilty for being involved with the fraud and also submitted written apologies to the medical council, according to published report. It is also reported that some of these doctors have confessed that they paid several lakhs of rupees to obtain the fake CPS certificates even after failing the medical examination. Many doctors across India have been using fake certificates and degrees to entice the unsuspecting patients. Some of these unscrupulous medicos also use bogus degrees after their names allegedly obtained from top Western Countries like USA and UK. Government has remained largely blind to such broad daylight criminal activities by otherwise registered medical practitioners. State medical councils and MCI also remained absolutely silent to these medical atrocities until today when MMC has taken this truly remarkable disciplinary measures against medical corruption. We salute the courageous doctor-members of MMC for their bold and honest stance and hope other medical councils will soon follow their footsteps for the sake of the vulnerable patients and to improve the sagging doctor-patient relationship in India.
On Monday (July 23), West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) received a major blow as Calcutta High Court Justice Mr. Tapabrata Chakraborty quashed the order passed by the medical council rejecting the nomination of PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, to participate in the ongoing council election. Although Dr. Saha’s PIL in 2012 was instrumental to hold council the last election in 2013 where Dr. Saha was also ran as a candidate, his nomination to participate this year’s election was rejected by WBMC on the ground that he wrote his name as “Kunal Saha” and not as “Saha Kunal” as it appeared in his registration certificate and also because he sent the nomination form electronically via email. The HC lambasted WBMC advocate in the court and questioned him whether the council believed that he was a different person because he wrote his first name first. WBMC advocate also raised objection against Dr. Saha’s nomination on the ground that he was only an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) which was also rejected by the court. The court directed WBMC to include Dr. Saha (and another doctor, Dr. Tripti Das, who came before the court with similar allegation) name in the ballot to allow him contest the council election.
Serious allegations of election manipulation were raised by different medical groups in West Bengal against WBMC headed by Dr. Nirmal Maji who is also sitting MLA of the ruling Trinomul-Congress party. In his writ petition, Dr. Saha also raised allegation of deliberate retaliation by Dr. Maji to reject his nomination as Dr. Saha recently brought serious criminal charges against Dr. Maji for “criminal conspiracy” (IPC Section 120b) and “criminal defamation” (IPC Section 500/501). Dr. Maji was indicted and surrendered but released on bail as he awaits the criminal trial to begin. Dr. Saha also raised complaint against Dr. Maji seeking cancellation of his medical registration as he planned to have his pet dog’s dialysis at a premier government hospital in Kolkata using his personal influence. MCI is currently investigating the complaint against Dr. Maji. Although WBMC election has already started through postal ballot, they have to use a new ballot with Dr. Saha’s and Dr. Das’s names as directed by the Calcutta HC. Appearing in-person, Dr. Saha argued his own case before the court yesterday (see news below).
PBT president Dr. Kunal Saha filed a writ petition in Calcutta High Court today challenging the decision by the West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) to reject Dr. Saha’s nomination paper to contest in the upcoming council election on the ground that he did not put his name in the proper “style” as “Saha Kunal” as shown in his registration certificate, instead he wrote the name on the nomination paper as “Kunal Saha”. There was no specific direction on the nomination application that the candidate should write their last name first. Ironically, Dr. Saha contested in the last council election and no objection was raised by the WBMC.
In the lawsuit filed today, Dr. Saha has also alleged that the WBMC perhaps rejected Dr. Saha’s nomination papers with a vindictive purpose at the behest of its president and ruling TMC party MLA, Dr. Nirmal Maji. Recently, Dr. Saha lodged a separate criminal case against Dr. Maji under IPC Section 120b (“criminal conspiracy”) and 500/501 (“criminal defamation”). Dr. Maji has been indicted criminally and released on bail awaiting trial. Dr. Saha has also lodged a complaint with the MCI against Dr. Maji seeking to cancel Dr. Maji’s medical registration after he was involved in planning to perform dialysis of a pet dog using the dialysis machine at SSKM Hospital, a premier government hospital in Kolkata potentially putting the lives of countless human patients at serious danger. Dr. Saha’s appeal with MCI is still pending for final adjudication. Dr. Saha has come to India to argue this and other cases on behalf of victims of alleged medical negligence in person.
While hearing PBT’s challenge to recent direction by Calcutta High Court to deposit Rs. 10 lakh as a pre-condition for hearing PIL seeking exhumation and postmortem of a 6-month old baby-girl victim of alleged medical negligence, 3-judge bench of Supreme Court presided by chief justice Mr. Dipak Mishra granted “leave” to approach the same Calcutta High Court bench asking to remove the Rs. 10 lakh advance deposit. The Apex Court also indicated that there is no provision in law to impose a pre-conditional deposit even before hearing a public interest litigation (PIL). Appearing for PBT, Senior Advocate Mr. Bhim Singh argued that it is unheard of that a court can impose financial burden even before hearing a PIL or judging whether it is maintainable or not. The order passed last month by division bench of Calcutta HC presided by chief justice shocked all NGOs and conscientious citizens who take the duty to fight social injustices by filing PILs for benefit of the entire society. The PIL was filed after the poor father of the baby-girl victim, who died at HLG Hospital at Asansol, came to PBT seeking help in finding medical justice for his departed child. Postmortem even after burial may shed more light to identify the exact cause of death of this unfortunate baby. The original PIL will now be heard and decided by the Calcutta High Court (see news below).
The Indian Medical Association (IMA) Bengal Branch held a highly publicized program to celebrate “Doctors’ Day” on July 1 at their head office near Park Circus, Kolkata where many doctor, political, and even government leaders participated to discuss various problems with the healthcare delivery system. While most doctor-leaders expressed their concerns about physical assaults by shocked friends and family members following death of a patient from alleged medical negligence, little was discussed about the “real” underlying reason for occasional unfortunate incidences of doctor bashing and hospital vandalism. Unlike in the Western countries like UK and USA where ordinary people cannot even imagine attacking doctors following death of their loved one from gross medical negligence because they almost always get medical justice through an honest and transparent investigation process by the medical council and also by the court of law unlike in India. However, PBT never condones doctor bashing or hospital vandalism even in the event of death from genuine “medical negligence” because two wrongs can never make a right.
The height of the sham pro-patients demonstration by the IMA on Doctors’ Day was invitation of veteran Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee, the most negligent physician in Indian medical history who was found guilty for gross medical negligence causing death of Anuradha Saha and ordered to pay the highest-ever compensation of Rs. 11.5 crore (along with AMRI Hospital and two other doctors). In the scathing judgment holding Dr. Mukherjee guilty for medical malpractice, Apex Court also severely criticized Dr. Mukherjee’s character as the court expressed that his behavior was “unbecoming of a doctor” and that he brought “great disrespect to the medical profession”. Shockingly, Dr. Mukherjee delivered a lecture before a packed house of IMA doctors on medical negligence and doctor-patient relationship. Do we still wonder why the “good” doctors still do not understand why public is losing trust on our healers?
PBT has filed a special leave petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court against the Calcutta High Court interim order passed two weeks ago. The Calcutta High Court directed that PBT must put an advance deposit of Rs. 10 lakh before the court may hear a public interest litigation (PIL) in which PBT had sought court’s permission to conduct postmortem of a 6-month old baby-girl, Kushi Ghosh, who died due to alleged medical negligence at HLG Hospital, a private medical center in Asansol. The hapless parents of the unfortunate child, who are from a very poor socio-economic background, came to PBT seeking help in search of justice for their departed daughter. PBT moved the PIL, with supporting opinion from forensic medical expert, to allow exhumation of the body of the deceased baby-girl and perform a postmortem to correctly identify the exact cause of death of the child. But Calcutta HC passed this unprecedented interim order asking PBT to put down a huge deposit even before the court may hear the PIL on its merit. The SLP will soon be decided by the Apex Court.
In an unprecedented and shocking blow to all registered humanitarian organizations (NGOs) that are working to help ordinary people of India find social justice through public interest litigations (PILs), Calcutta High Court (HC) passed an unprecedented order directing PBT to make a hefty advance deposit of Rs. 10 lakh even before hearing to decide whether a PIL is “maintainable” or not. PBT recently moved a PIL (W.P. No. 197/2018) seeking direction for exhumation and postmortem of a 6-month old baby-girl after the unfortunate and poor parents came to PBT seeking help to find justice as they alleged lack of care and gross medical negligence responsible for death of their child at a private hospital (HLG Hospital) in Asansol. The hapless parents also lodged a police complaint soon after death of their child but police remained non-responsive as no postmortem was performed to ascertain the exact cause of death.
Victim’s family came to PBT more than two months after death of their baby-girl and PBT approached Calcutta HC through this PIL, with supporting opinion from forensic medical expert, seeking court’s permission to exhume the body to perform postmortem to find the cause of death as also wanted by the hapless parents. Postmortem often sheds light on the exact cause of death of a patient that in turn may prove useful to establish medical negligence. But division bench of chief justice Mr. Jyotirmay Bhattacharya and Mr. Arijit Banerjee of Calcutta HC has directed PBT to make an advance deposit of whopping amount of Rs. 10 lakh for hearing after two weeks to decide whether the PIL is “maintainable”. The HC has further said that the entire money would be forfeited if the court finally decides that the PIL is not maintainable or frivolous. This unprecedented order by a high court obviously sends a chilling signal to all NGOs for filing PILs seeking social justice in future. PBT will challenge this seemingly shocking order in the Supreme Court for the ends of justice.
In the written exam held earlier this month at the King George’s Medical University in Lucknow for doctors in the program for obtaining post-graduate degree in medicine (M.D.), a question simply asked, “Write briefly on violence against doctors: Causes, effects and solution“. A valid point may be raised whether this question at all belongs in the examination for would be medicine specialists but more importantly, having been involved with the unequal fight for justice for the victims of medical negligence, we wonder what would be the standard for the examiners to judge the “correct” answer to this unusual question for M.D. examinees? Apart from the debatable answers for the “causes” or “effects” of violence against doctors, what is the right “solutions” to solve the crisis of wide-spread medical negligence and sporadic attacks on doctors?
PBT never supports the idea of doctor bashing or hospital vandalism under any condition, even in the event of death from genuine incidence of “medical negligence” because two wrongs can never make a right. But there is no argument that most cases of violence against doctors happen due to deep erosion of public trust on the medical community. When a loved person dies in front of your eyes from apparent act of gross medical negligence, friends and family of the victim want medical justice. Unfortunately, it is a common knowledge today that, unlike in the West, doctor-members of the medical council primarily work to shield their errant medical colleagues without caring for the loss of life of an ordinary citizen. The idea of violence against doctors is simply unimaginable in the Western Countries including USA and UK because medical councils in these countries (composed of doctor and non-doctor members) investigate complaints against doctors in an impartial and transparent manner and routinely suspend/cancel license of the negligent doctors. There is no need for the ordinary citizens in these countries to take law into their own hands in a futile attempt to find medical justice by physical violence against doctors/hospitals as in India. No new law to put the victim’s friends/families in jail for their momentary lose of control under acute grief and lack of hope for justice in the medical council after losing their loved one from gross medical negligence cannot be an effective solution to prevent attacks on doctors. Compassion and proper understanding from victim’s perspectives are necessary to eradicate the social evils of medical negligence and violence against doctors. But will the examiners in Lucknow give appropriate credit for this answer to the M.D. candidates?
In a stunning development during hearing of a PIL filed by PBT seeking court’s permission to exhume the body of 6-month old baby and perform post-mortem to help in search of justice, Calcutta High Court division bench presided by the chief justice said that they may allow the writ petition provided PBT makes an advance deposit of Rs. 10 lakh which will be returned only if it is proven that this death involved medical negligence. Akshay Ghosh, a poor man from Asansol (200 km from Kolkata) whose 6-month old daughter, Kushi Ghosh, died last March at HLG Hospital in Asansol from alleged gross medical negligence after an injection was given the child, recently came to PBT seeking help to find justice. The HLG Hospital denied all charges of medical negligence and tried to botch up medical records. In order to find the cause of death, PBT moved a PIL with supporting opinion from forensic expert seeking exhumation and post-mortem of the baby. Although post-mortem after almost three months of death provides no guarantee that the exact cause of death may be identified for obvious decomposition of the body, there is some chance that the cause may become clear following the post-mortem. But post-mortem report may at most be useful as a piece of supporting evidence. Proving a case of “medical negligence” before the court of law requires many such supporting evidences and testimonies from the witnesses. Is it possible for PBT, a purely charitable organization working selflessly to help the hapless victims of medical negligence find justice, to put up Rs. 10 lakh in advance with a guarantee that “medical negligence” will be proven in the court of law? Nobody can be prejudiced with exhumation and post-mortem of Kushi Ghosh and her unfortunate parents also provided written submission requesting the court to allow exhumation and post-mortem of their deceased child. So why to impose this heavy financial burden to a bona fide NGO like PBT before the court may allow their PIL to exhume the body of Kushi and perform post-mortem examination?
PBT sent a legal notice today to the Bidhan Nagar (North) police station demanding immediate registration of FIR to initiate criminal investigation against one Dr. Barun Chakraborty, a gynecologist and Apollo Clinic in Kolkata where Dr. Chakraborty continued treating patients even after his medical registration was suspended by the West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC). Suspension of medical registration by medical council for alleged medical negligence or ethical violation is an extremely rare incidence in India. But even on these rare occasions, nobody, except the guilty doctor and council members, are aware about doctor’s loss of license to see patients. Although clear law exists that medical council must highly publicize in the local press whenever a doctor’s registration is suspended, it never happens in reality as the suspended doctor continue seeing patients unperturbed.
After we came to known about this incidence where Dr. Chakraborty merrily continued his medical practice at well-known Apollo Clinic, PBT lodged a written complaint with the local police station. But the officer-in-charge at Bidhan Nagar (North) police station showed no interest to investigate or register an FIR in brazen violation of the procedures stipulated under the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) in India. PBT then moved the criminal court that passed an order on 5th May, 2018 directing the police to register PBT’s complaint as an FIR and initiate criminal investigation against the accused doctor and Apollo Clinic. More than one month have passed, Bidhan Nagar (North) police still remains absolutely reluctant to act against the accused Dr. Chakraborty and Apollo Clinic. Repeated attempts by PBT by telephone calls and text messages to obtain information in this matter also received no response from the police as they defy even order from the court in the most contemptuous manner. PBT has submitted a notice today to the police OC/IC and unless police starts the criminal investigation against Dr. Chakraborty and Apollo Clinic soon, PBT may move the court again for deliberate police inaction. Ironically, this case has been highly publicized by the media in Kolkata but WBMC has also remained absolutely silent and did not take any measure against the fact that Dr. Chakraborty and Apollo Clinic brazenly ignored their order of suspension of medical registration.
PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, lodged a private complaint case under Indian Penal Code (IPC) section 120b (“criminal conspiracy”) and section 500/501 (“criminal defamation”) against West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) president and a sitting MLA for the ruling TMC party, Dr. Nirmal Maji, for his verbal abusive and defamatory attack after Dr. Saha criticized the council president for trying to perform dialysis of his pet dog using the dialysis machine at a premier government hospital for humans (SSKM Hospital in Kolkata) putting the lives of innocent patients in serious danger. Bankshall Court in Kolkata took cognizance of the criminal complaint against Dr. Maji who surrendered before the court on 7th March, 2018 and was released on bail as the case is still pending for the trial to begin. Response to an RTI application revealed this week that it was the WBMC, and not Dr. Maji, that paid a total of Rs. 45,740/- (forty-five thousand seven hundred forty rupees) as legal fees thus far in defense of Dr. Maji. None of the WBMC officials/members are even remotely involved or made as a respondent/accused in this criminal case that was filed solely against Dr. Maji and another private citizen (editor of a newspaper that carried the defamatory comments by Dr. Maji). This gross abuse of public funds (from WBMC budget) by Dr. Maji to pay for his personal legal expenses through manipulation of the council office as well as through extraneous political influence not only provides strong evidence of gross transgression of legal and moral boundaries in the highest medical regulatory authority in the state, it also underscores presence of wide-spread corruption inside the WBMC. PBT lodged a formal complaint with the state health department today seeking investigation and exemplary disciplinary action against all individuals involved with this sordid state of affairs in the medical council.
Patients’ Day (“Rogi Divas“) was celebrated yesterday (May 28) to spread awareness about patients’ rights and to assure medical justice for all victims of medical negligence. Victims medical malpractice from distant places gathered in Kolkata to tell their stories and show solidarity in search of justice for their loved ones who have fallen prey to wrong and unethical treatment by hitherto “untouchable” doctors and hospitals. Among many grievances for the victims of medical negligence, long and inordinate delay of cases against doctors/hospitals has been a source of great frustration for many victims’ families. Despite having a clear provision that complaints for compensation (under Consumer Protection Act, 1986) should be decided by the Consumer Courts through a “summary” trial preferably within a period of six months, cases against doctors are routinely kept on pending for years and even decade because serious complaints of wrongful death by errant doctors/hospitals are listed together with other trivial consumer complaints against defective products or services. PBT has long claimed that a separate fast-track consumer court should be established only to judge cases involving medical negligence in order to send a strong and deterrent signal against medical malpractice. A Memorandum was sent to the government yesterday in demand of a fast-track court for timely disposal of all complaints of medical negligence.
Dr. Nirmal Maji, sitting president of West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) and MLA of the ruling TMC party in West Bengal, was involved in hatching an unprecedented and dangerous plan to perform dialysis of his pet dog using the machine at the SSKM Hospital, a premier tertiary-care government medical center in Kolkata where countless innocent patients attend to undergo dialysis everyday. This brazenly reckless and unscientific act by Dr. Maji in collusion with Dr. Pradip Mitra (then SSKM superintendent) and Dr. Rajendra Pandey (then SSKM urology head) posed serious danger to the lives of thousands of unsuspecting patients. After PBT lodged a complaint with MCI seeking exemplary disciplinary action against the WBMC president and two other doctors, MCI passed an Order last November directing WBMC to investigate and take appropriate disciplinary action against the three doctors within a period of 3 months. More than 6 months later, WBMC has remained absolutely silent to shield their leader as MCI also showed no interest to look into this serious matter as WBMC president continues to lead investigation of complaints against other delinquent medicos. PBT has submitted a legal notice with MCI today seeking immediate cancellation of medical registration of Dr. Maji, Dr. Mitra and Dr. Pandey failing which PBT would move the appropriate legal forum to bring justice against this overt corruption in the medical regulatory authorities.
In an unprecedented development against wide-spread police inaction to lodge FIR or to initiate criminal investigation of powerful private hospitals/doctors for alleged cheating, fraud or criminal conspiracy, Court of the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate (ACJM) in Salt Lake, Kolkata allowed PBT’s appeal against police inaction and directed police at the Bidhan Nagar (North) Police Station to register PBT’s complaint as an FIR and immediately initiate criminal investigation of several cognizable offenses against premier Apollo Clinics at City Center, Kolkata and Dr. Barun Chakraborty, a gynecologist who continued practice at the said clinic even after his medical registration was suspended by the West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC). A written complaint was lodged with the Bidhan Nagar police in March, 2018 by PBT after they came to learn that Dr. Chakraborty was regularly attending patients at Apollo Clinics although his license to practice was suspended by WBMC for a period of one year starting June, 2017. PBT’s complaint contained specific allegations of cognizable offence against Apollo Clinics and Dr. Chakraborty for violation of several provisions of Indian Penal Code (IPC) including Section 120b (“criminal conspiracy”), Section 420 (“cheating”) and Section 467 (“forgery”).
The senior police officer (IC), Mr. Saikat Banerjee, who received PBT’s complaint, merely “acknowledged” the complaint but refused to register an FIR against the accused (Apollo Clinics and Dr. Chakraborty) in clear violation of Section 154 CrPC. PBT then lodged a formal complaint with the Police Commissioner who also remained absolutely silent. With no other option to find justice, PBT then approached the court (under Section 156 CrPC) and the Ld. Magistrate allowed PBT’s petition this week citing several Apex Court judgments and issued categorical direction to the police to register PBT’s complaint as an FIR and to proceed immediately with the criminal investigation against Apollo Clinics and Dr. Chakraborty as per law. The complaint of similar deliberate police inaction against powerful members of the society including doctors and private hospitals is not new. In fact, PBT is also investigating several other similar criminal activities by top doctors who continue practice without any hesitation despite having their medical license revoked by the medical council.
West Bengal Medical Council suspended practicing license of a urologist, Dr. Vinay Mahendra, for a period of two years starting last November for medical negligence. Even MCI website has been showing Dr. Mahendra’s suspended registration status in the Indian Medical Register. But all this was no problem for Dr. Mahendra as he continues to treat numerous patients every day at Apollo Gleneagles Hospital, the top private medical center in Kolkata. In fact, Apollo hospital continues to glorify Dr. Mahendra on their website with his attractive pictures and superlative accolades claiming how great a doctor he is only to entice the unsuspecting patients.
Earlier this month, PBT lodged a formal criminal complaint for fraud, deception and illegal medical practice against Apollo hospital and Dr. Mahendra with Phoolbagan Police Station that has jurisdiction over the hospital. The acting O.C., Mr. Suman Naskar, assured that he would take immediate action considering the serious nature of PBT’s complaint. But three weeks later, Phoolbagan police has not even registered an FIR in brazen violation of numerous judgments from Supreme Court of India as Dr. Mahendra has continued to practice at the same Apollo hospital as late as today (April 25), as verified by PBT. PBT has sent a formal complaint with the Police Commissioner, as stipulated under Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, seeking immediate intervention and exemplary disciplinary action against the devious police officer at Phoolbagan Police Station. Unless Police Commissioner acts promptly against this police inaction and take adequate criminal action against the errant doctor and Apollo Hospital, PBT may move the appropriate court of law in demand of equitable justice.
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.
Medical Council of India (MCI) passed an order directing West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) to investigate complaint lodged by PBT against Dr. Nirmal Maji (WBMC president and MLA who is known to be very close Mamata Banerjee) and two other senior government doctors, for their role in planning dialysis of their pet dog at the SSKM Hospital, a premier state post-graduate medical center in Kolkata. Dr. Maji and SSKM superintendent (Dr. Pradip Mitra) and head of Nephrology (Dr. Rajendra Pandey) were involved in organizing dialysis of a pet dog at the SSKM hospital putting lives of countless patients to serious danger abusing their high governmental positions and political influence in 2015. Fortunately, the news was leaked to the media causing a huge public uproar that prevented final dialysis of the dog in a machine for humans.
PBT lodged a complaint with WBMC for exemplary disciplinary action against the three doctors for their brazenly unethical conduct. After WBMC remained silent for two years, PBT lodged an appeal (under section 8.7 of MCI Code of Ethics & Regulations, 2002) with the MCI seeking action against the three doctors. In its order earlier this month, MCI has referred the case back to WBMC directing them to complete investigation and take appropriate disciplinary action within a period of 3 months. MCI has further said in their order that if WBMC fails to complete investigation within 3 months, PBT may return to MCI for justice. But the obvious question – are WBMC members qualified to conduct a fair and impartial investigation against their own president? PBT has called for investigation by independent doctors from out of state to avoid possibility of the appearance of a conflict of interest (see the news below).
Justice Debansu Basak of Calcutta High Court has directed West Bengal Information Commission (WBIC) to dispose off PBT’s RTI application (Second Appeal seeking medical records of then transport minister, Madan Mitra) as soon as possible and within a period of 4 weeks (see news below). PBT had moved a writ petition after WBIC informed that they are over-burdened and cannot hear PBT’s Second Appeal for 1-2 years although RTI Act, 2005 has clearly stipulated that application for information must be disposed within a maximum period of 30 days.
Mr. Madan Mitra, a close ally of Bengal chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, was arrested by CBI in 2014 in the well-known Saradha Chit Fund scam but instead of staying in jail, Mitra was shifted to SSKM Hospital, premier government hospital in Kolkata, on the alleged ground that Mitra was too sick to stay in jail. Regular media reports showed that Mitra was in no serious medical condition as he was kept in a comfortable air-condition private cabin with regular visits by his friends and family. It appeared that Mitra avoided staying in jail. perhaps with sinister support from doctors at SSKM hospital by virtue of his political influence. After PBT sought Mitra’s medical records (under RTI Act) to be examined by independent outside medical experts, SSKM authority refused to provide any information against which PBT eventually filed the Second Appeal with WBIC as per the provisions in the RTI Act, 2005. After WBIC also remained silent and claimed that they cannot hear the Second Appeal for 1-2 years, PBT was compelled to move Calcutta High Court that has now directed WBIC to dispose off our appeal within 4 weeks time.
PBT filed a new writ petition in Calcutta High Court yesterday against West Bengal Government and top government super-speciality SSKM hospital in Kolkata after they refused to provide any information about why Mr. Madan Mitra, then state transport minister and a close ally of Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, was transferred to a comfortable special unit in SSKM hospital, a premier government medical center in Kolkata, after he was arrested and put in jail by CBI for his alleged role in the well-known Saradha Chit Fund scam in 2014. While Mr. Mitra is now free on bail as the criminal case of Saradha scam is still going on in the court, the question remains whether unlike other ordinary incarcerated criminals who are put in jail by the CBI, Mr. Mitra was able to spend his jail-time in an air-conditioned hospital cabin by virtue of his high political position.
PBT sought medical records of Mr. Mitra from the SSKM hospital (under RTI Act, 2005) after Mr. Mitra was shifted from his jail cell to the SSKM hospital for his alleged medical condition to have the records examined by outside independent medical experts. But neither the SSKM public information officer nor the First Appellate authority of the government hospital bothered even to respond to PBT RTI requests. PBT filed a Second Appeal with the West Bengal Information Commission (WBIC) in 2015, as per the provisions of RTI Act, 2005, but after more than 2 years, the Second Appeal has also remained unanswered by the WBIC. RTI Act, 2005 has stipulated that requested information must be provided within a maximum period of 30 days. Thus, PBT was compelled to move the Calcutta HC seeking direction for providing the requested information to find whether Mr. Madan Mitra was shielded to serve jail time using bogus medical certificate from unethical doctors. The writ petition is likely to come up for hearing next week.
In yet another shocking display of how disgraced ex-MCI president, Dr. Ketan Desai, who was caught red-handed by the CBI for taking huge bribe from a private medical college (when Desai was still MCI president), is still holding a firm grip over the healthcare and medical education systems in India – it is reported by the Times of India (click the link: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/videos/Nadda-shares-stage-with-Ketan-Desai-sparks-row/videoshow/45662073.cms) that the sitting health minister of BJP government, J.P. Nadda, was seen sitting close to Dr. Desai during an open public ceremony last week.
It may be noted that Dr. Desai was released on bail by the CBI court in Patiala House in New Delhi in October, 2010 after spending seven months in jail but the criminal trial has been delayed for more than 7 years on one ground or another as Desai is continued to be glorified by his medical cronies in the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and also through his sinister connection with the leaders of the present government. Ironically, Desai’s medical registration was also suspended for indefinite period by the MCI in October, 2010 (after PBT lodged a formal complaint for “professional misconduct”) but despite that, unscrupulous political and medical leaders are still trying hard to bring criminally-indicted Desai back to the helm of Indian medicine.
Indian Medical Association (MCI) and other influential doctor-lobbies are making frequent agitations against attacks on doctors or vandalism of hospitals by irate friends and family members of a victim of “medical negligence”. PBT never supports physical attacks on doctors/hospitals because two wrongs cannot make a right. But have the IMA leaders and members of the medical community in India ever attempted to understand the real or underlying cause of mob attacks on doctors? Who is actually responsible for the present condition of Indian healthcare? In a thought provoking analytical discussion about the glaring problem of attacks on doctors/hospitals, PBT president talks about the underlying reasons for attacks by the hapless victims of medical negligence (read the Hindustan Times article below).
Dr. Ketan Desai, then president of MCI, was caught red-handed by CBI in April, 2010 for taking a bribe of multi-crore rupees from a private medical college in Punjab and he spent next almost seven months in jail before being released on bail. Soon thereafter, Desai’s medical license was suspended for indefinite period by the newly formed Board of Governors (BOG) in MCI after PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, lodged a complaint against Desai for unethical conduct. But more than 7 years later, while still roaming free on bail, Desai regained the position of WMA president with sinister support from his medical cronies who are occupying top posts in the IMA and MCI as the criminal trial against him in CBI court in Patiala House in Delhi is delayed on one ground or another. Ironically, playing the role of a honest and unscathed medical man and head of WMA, Desai along with World Veterinary Association (WVA) issued a joint statement this week calling for Rabies control in the world. This unbelievable saga involving the most corrupt and criminally indicted doctor (Ketan Desai) continues making a total mockery of Indian medical education and healthcare delivery system as the government remains as a silent spectator and IMA/MCI doctor-leaders also continue their relentless attempts to further glorify Dr. Ketan Desai.
A Legal Notice was sent yesterday by PBT president Dr. Kunal Saha’s advocate to the West Bengal Government under Section 80 of Code of Civil Procedures (CPC), 1908 with a demand of Rs. 100 Crore for “defamation” and “vicarious liability” as the government failed to take any action after a judge in Calcutta High Court made slanderous and defamatory comments against Dr. Saha while acquitting three senior Kolkata doctors from all charges of medical negligence who were later found guilty for causing death of Dr. Saha’s wife, Anuradha Saha, by the Supreme Court of India. While holding the doctors guilty for medical negligence in 2009, Apex Court also severely chastised the High Court judge and held that the judge made “irresponsible accusations” against Dr. Saha without any basis whatsoever.
After the Apex Court verdict, Dr. Saha moved Calcutta High Court again in 2011 with a case for “criminal defamation” (under Section 500 IPC) against the first judge for his defamatory and irresponsible accusations. Although High Court dismissed Dr. Saha’s petition on technical ground, the court also agreed with the opinion of the Supreme Court that “irresponsible accusations” were made against Dr. Saha and observed that while a private citizen may not file charges against a judge for making derogatory comments in a judgment, the State may take appropriate action and be vicariously liable for any wrong done on a citizen. But since the Bengal Government remained silent and refused to take any action to bring justice to Dr. Saha, he has now sent this Legal Notice claiming Rs. 100 crore for defamation and vicarious liability. However, in the same Legal Notice, Dr. Saha’s advocate has also categorically stated that Dr. Saha will not personally take a single rupee from this lawsuit and the entire money will be donated for improvement of healthcare system and other benevolent public purposes in India. Under Section 80 of CPC, at least 60 days notice must be given to a respondent before filing a claim suit in the appropriate court.
In another shocking development underscoring corruption and accumulation of black money by the hitherto “untouchable” doctors and medical specialists, Income Tax officers raided RSV Hospital, a premier private nursing home in Kolkata that specialized in in vitro fertilization (IVF) with hope for children to the infertile couples at a hefty price. The hospital owner and self-proclaimed top IVF specialist, Dr. Bani Kumar Mitra was enticing a new childless couple in his chamber when the Tax Men raided his nursing home on Saturday (September 16) and reportedly collected about Rs. 4 crore in cash that were stacked in unimpressive boxes.
Ironically, several families of alleged victims who died in the hands of Dr. Mitra recently came to PBT seeking justice after both the child and mother died following treatment by Dr. Mitra at the IVF Hospital after they collected lakhs of rupees in the name of IVF therapy. PBT is in the process of filing new compensation lawsuits to help these alleged victims of Dr. Mitra at this very moment. In fact, during recent visit to Kolkata by PBT president Dr. Kunal Saha, a mass public demonstration was held in front of the RSV Hospital in demand of expedited investigation and cancellation of Dr. Mitra’s medical registration because of his reckless and unethical treatment of several hapless patients. PBT is planning to appeal to the medical council for immediate and summarily suspension of Dr. Mitra’s license on the ground of “moral turpitude” under Section 7.5 of MCI Code of Ethics and Regulations, 2002.
In a judgment that may have major implications for surgeries in smaller hospitals and nursing homes, Supreme Court has opined that hospitals/nursing homes without adequate intensive care unit (ICU) facility should not undertake surgical procedures in which there is reasonable chance for serious post-operative complications putting the life of the patient in danger. The Apex Court was hearing an appeal by one Mr. Bijoy Sinha Roy (who has also passed away during pendency of this case) whose wife died following post-surgical complications after hysterectomy (removal of uterus) by one Dr. Biswanath Das in a small nursing home in 1994 (see SC judgment below). However, the court did not held the doctor for specific “medical negligence” in the diagnosis or treatment of the patient. Apart from this important direction, Apex Court also criticized the fact that it took long 23 years for this case to be settled an directed National Consume Forum (NCDRC) to frame new ways to dispose of cases of medical negligence in an expedited manner.
Calcutta High Court division bench of acting chief justice Nishita Mhatre and Tapobrata Chakrabarty yesterday allowed application filed by PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, granting him permission to argue in person in the PIL filed by Dr. Saha challenging inclusion of disgraced Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee in the newly formed Health Commission (framed under Clinical Establishment Act, 2017) to judge complaints of “medical negligence” against private doctors/hospitals in the state. Dr. Mukherjee was found guilty for gross medical negligence causing death of Dr. Saha’s wife, Anuradha Saha, by the Supreme Court of India that also slapped Dr. Mukherjee (and some other doctors and AMRI hospital in Kolkata) with a compensation of Rs. 11.5 crore, highest ever in Indian medical history. The Apex Court not only held Dr. Mukherjee as a negligent doctor, it also severely criticized his unethical behavior and dubbed him as “unbecoming of a doctor” and a doctor who has brought “great disrespect to his (medical) profession”.
Dr. Saha traveled to Kolkata in July, 2017 to lodge the PIL against Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal for their deliberate attempt to promote a tainted doctor (Dr. Mukherjee) that also undermined the sanctity of the Supreme Court in the eyes of the public at large in clear violation of Article 144 of Indian Constitution. But after physically appearing before the High Court over a period of almost two months, the PIL was adjourned several times and Dr. Saha had to return to his permanent residence and place of work in USA before which he filed an application to grant live videoconferencing from USA to allow him to argue in person for the ends of justice. The Calcutta HC allowed his application yesterday and directed that further hearings in this important PIL will be held after puja vacation through videoconferencing so that Dr. Saha may participate in the court proceedings from USA. Supreme Court has recently said that all courts should try to utilize modern technologies including live videoconferencing to promote better and easier access to find justice.
Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee, who was found guilty for gross medical negligence causing death of Anuradha Saha by Supreme Court in 2009 that also awarded highest ever compensation of Rs. 11.5 crore in 2013, was chosen as the “chief adviser” for Bengal health department by chief minister Mamata Banerjee against which a writ petition was filed by Anuradha’s husband and PBT’s founding-president, Dr. Kunal Saha, with Mamata Banerjee as the first respondent against whom serious allegations of male fide appointment of Dr. Mukherjee and deliberate attempt to undermine sanctity of Apex Court were raised. While admitting issuing notice to the respondents, Calcutta HC also directed Dr. Saha to delete the name of CM Mamata Banerjee from the array of respondents that was challenged by Dr. Saha through an SLP before the Supreme Court. Although Apex Court admitted the SLP and issued notice against Mamata Banerjee in late 2012, the case is still pending for final disposal before the Supreme Court.
After waiting for almost five years, Mamata Banerjee has submitted a response-affidavit this week in which she has claimed that although Dr. Mukherjee was appointed as the “chief adviser” by the government in 2012, he had been removed from the post in 2015. Until now, nobody in Bengal government made any whisper that Dr. Mukherjee was removed from the post of “chief adviser” even though two cases were pending before Calcutta HC and Apex Court. Banerjee now claims that this case now should be deemed as “infructuous”. The SLP is expected to come up for final hearing soon. Ironically, although Dr. Mukherjee has been removed from the post of “chief adviser”, as CM has claimed, the same doctor was appointed as a senior member of the recently formed Health Commission (under Clinical Establishment Act, 2017) with enormous power to judge all complaints of “medical negligence” against private doctors in West Bengal. Dr. Saha has already challenged appointment of Dr. Mukherjee in the Health Commission through a PIL and Calcutta High Court has also issued notice against the government and Dr. Mukherjee in that case which will listed for hearing tomorrow (Sept. 1, 2017).
PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, appeared before division bench of Justice Iswar Chandra Das and Tarapada Gangopadyay in West Bengal Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission and argued on behalf of Mr. Prabir Dey, a poor daily laborer whose 20-year old wife Archana Dey died last year at the R.G. Kar Medical College & Hospital, a top super-specialty hospital in Kolkata, only days after she delivered their first child through an otherwise uneventful delivery what the death certificate issued by the hospital claims as death due to “acute renal failure”. The state hospital has not provided any any explanation as to how a healthy 20-year old woman could suddenly die from “acute renal failure” and even more shockingly, the hospital has refused to provide any medical record to the victim’s family in clear violation of law (Section 1.3.2 of MCI Code of Ethics & Regulations, 2002). Dr. Saha argued that a young and healthy woman dying following delivery with “acute renal failure” should be ex facie deemed as a case of medical negligence. A compensation of Rs. 95 lakh has been claimed for the loss of a mother on behalf of the unfortunate husband and newborn baby-girl. Commission has admitted the case and issued notice to the hospital as the matter would come for final hearing on February 10, 2018.
A division bench of Hon’ble Justice Mr. B.C. Gupta and Dr. S.M. Kantikar in the National Consumer Forum (NCDRC) admitted a major complaint of “medical negligence” and issued show cause notice against a private nursing home “Extent Medical & Surgical Center” in Chandannagar near Kolkata for the wrongful death of Ms. Sanchita Khan, US-trained IT specialist and only 32-year old daughter of a ENT specialist, Dr. Manik Chandra Khan. Sanchita died following treatment by one Dr. Amit Saha (owner of the Extent nursing home) after suffering from a simple cough and fever for only 4 days. Ironically, Dr. Saha was found to be practicing with a fake M.D. degree in medicine as he claimed himself to be a “critical care specialist” even though he was found to have only post-graduate (M.D.) degree in Preventive and Social Medicine (PSM).
PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, appeared on behalf of Dr. Khan and argued that the treatment provided to the victim was abysmal as no attempt was made to correct the obvious medical problems like anemia and hypoxia as the patient was left virtually unattended to die after only 4 days. A claim of Rs. 3.95 crore compensation has been made in this complaint in view of the young age and high status of the victim as well as the unethical conduct of the accused doctor and hospital.
PBT president also successfully argued before the same bench the case of a second victim of alleged medical negligence in which a 62-year old lady, who was suffering from a heart attack, was refused admission at an ESI Hospital in Kolkata. The patient died within 15 hours without treatment after she was taken back home. In this case, MCI has already found the accused doctor, Darpanarayan Datta, guilty for medical negligence and directed the West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) to cancel his medical license for a period of 1 year. Unfortunately, WBMC still refused to abide by the MCI’s order and did not take any measure to cancel license of Dr. Datta. A compensation of Rs. 1.05 crore has been claimed in this matter. Both matters will come up for further hearing in November. Over the past more than one month since Dr. Saha came from USA, he has been appearing for different victims of medical negligence (on behalf of PBT) in consumer courts across India without ever taking any money from any of the victims only to help them find medical justice.
Scores of victims of alleged medical negligence gathered in front of RSV Hospital, a prominent city hospital in Tollygaunge, Kolkata yesterday under PBT’s banner and demanded speedy justice in all pending complaints of against doctors/hospitals. Heart-rending stories of gross medical negligence and death of near and dear ones were narrated by many victim’s friends and families. People raised demand for timely justice in cases involving alleged “medical negligence” in consumer courts through a separate fast-track court. Many victims expressed their dismay with the functioning of the state medical council that has been riddled with wide-spread corruption primarily working to shield the errant doctors without any care for the hapless victims of medical negligence. PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, was also present at this public rally and demanded that corrupt medical council members must be held accountable and replaced by honest doctors if there is any hope to restore public trust on our healers (see rally picture below with Dr. Saha).
Division bench of West Bengal State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission headed by president Justice Mr. Ishwar Chandra Das issued notice against Belle Vue Clinic, a premier private hospital in Kolkata, and Dr. Niranjan Bhattacharyya for a botched surgery that nearly took the life of wife of Mr. Partha Datta, a retired income tax commissioner. As emphatically argued by PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, while doing a routine hysterectomy, Dr. Bhattacharyya also cut the left ureter of the patient and even worse, it was not disclosed to the patient or her husband. After patient’s condition deteriorated rapidly and a second opinion was sought, it was found that urine was leaking into the abdomen as the patient went into a serious condition. A number of follow-up surgeries were performed as the patient was transferred to a different hospital to save the life of the patient who still suffers from persistent medical problems. The long medical fiasco also caused a serious dent in Datta’s financial situation as the family had to pay a hefty hospital bill of over Rs. 20 lakh. The lawsuit has sought a compensation of about Rs. 45 lakh including the hospital cost for treatment of the patient. The matter will be listed for contested hearing on January 10, 2018.
Ironically, the same Dr. Bhattacharyya was also involved with unlawful and unethical “stem cell therapy” on a poor and unsuspecting patient in 2013. PBT lodged a formal complaint against this doctor with the West Bengal Medical Council seeking cancellation of medical registration of Dr. Bhattacharyya for his unlawful and dangerous medical experiment. While WBMC listed PBT’s complaint on their website, not a single hearing was held till now as the devious medical council stays on a slumber for the past 4 years as the accused doctor (see below).
The West Bengal State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (WBSCDRC) admitted a case of alleged medical negligence and issued notice against Woodlands Multispeciality Hospital in Kolkata for the wrongful death of a 76-year old patient from Birbhum, a rural part of West Bengal about 170 km from Kolkata. Apart from allegations of negligent therapy, the complaint also alleges that the private hospital refused to provide medical records to the victim’s family following death of the patient on the ground that patient’s family still owes money to the hospital and until full hospital bill is paid, no medical records would be provided to the family. Although the patient-party (of a low socio-economic background) paid almost Rs. 6 lakh rupees for the medical treatment, hospital claims total hospital bill was Rs. 23 lakh and patient’s family must pay another Rs. 17 lakh before medical records would be handed over to the patient party.
Section 1.3.2 of MCI Code of Medical Ethics & Regulations, 2002 has mandated that all doctors and hospitals must provide complete medical records of a patient within 72 hours without any condition. It is nearly impossible to establish a case of “medical negligence” without complete medical records of the patient. The complaint, filed by victim’s sons, has claimed that the “real” reason that the hospital is refusing to hand-over the medical records is to cover up their acts of negligence. PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, who is currently visiting India, appeared to argue on behalf of the victim’s family in this unusual case involving alleged medical negligence. The WBSCDRC issued notice to the hospital after hearing Dr. Saha and fixed next date of hearing on 11th January, 2018 (see Order below). PBT has been helping many victims of medical malpractice in their search for justice as Dr. Saha, who has successfully argued many medico-legal cases including the historic case of his wife, Anuradha Saha’s wrongful death before the Supreme Court of India in 2013, has been frequently coming to India over the past four years to argue cases on behalf of many hapless victims of wrong treatment across the country. Of course, PBT and Dr. Saha fight these legal battles for the victims completely free of cost and if fact, Dr. Saha spends lakhs of rupees of his own money in order to travel to India and appear in court on behalf of countless victims of medical negligence.
More than two years ago, medical field in West Bengal and across India was rattled with the news that Dr. Nirmal Maji, president of West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC), orchestrated to have hemodialysis of his pet dog done at SSKM Hospital, top super-specialty tertiary care hospital for human patients in Kolkata (see below). The brazenly unscientific idea of using a dialysis machine on a dog that is regularly used for humans is not only reckless and unethical, it may also pose serious threats to the human patients because of possibility of spread of infection and even more dangerously, chance of transmission of a new virus or other microbial diseases of animals (“zoonotic diseases”) to the innocent humans. Although a registered physician from West Bengal, Dr. Maji is also an MLA of the ruling Trinomul-Congress party, top IMA leader from Kolkata and head of the state medical council that has the ultimate duty to protect patients from medical negligence and unethical activities by Bengal doctors.
PBT filed a formal complaint in 2015 with the WBMC against Dr. Maji for his blatantly unethical and dangerous attempt to perform dialysis of his pet dog in a government hospitals for humans. More than two years have passed and media uproar against Dr. Maji have subsided, WBMC has remained absolutely silent and refused to investigate or take any action against their president even though MCI Code of Ethics & Regulations, 2002 has clearly stipulated that complaints against doctors must be decided within a period of 6 months. Now, PBT has lodged an appeal (under section 8.7 of MCI Codes) with MCI today urging the central medical council to investigate and take immediate disciplinary action against the present WBMC president. Nobody is above the law – we hope that MCI will rise to the occasion and take quick and exemplary disciplinary action against Dr. Maji.
A new PIL (Writ Petition No. 17057W/2017) filed against the recently formed Health Commission (under W.B. Clinical Establishment Act, 2017) was admitted by the Calcutta High Court division bench of chief justice Ms. Nishita Mhatre and Mr. Tapabrata Chakraborty and tagged with a second PIL (W.P. No. 217/2017) that had already been pending on similar grounds. The court directed West Bengal health department and Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee to file their response within 2 week and allowed another 2 weeks to file any rejoinder. The matter will be heard after 4 weeks.
The PIL filed by PBT president Dr. Kunal Saha has raised specific questions on violation of Constitution as well as moral authority on part of the state government to select Dr. Mukherjee as senior doctor-member of the powerful Health Commission to judge complaints of medical negligence by private doctors and hospitals in the state. Ironically, as known all over India, the same Dr. Mukherjee was found guilty by the Supreme Court for gross medical negligence causing death of Anuradha Saha in 2009. The Apex Court also awarded a compensation of Rs. 11.5 crore (including interest), highest in Indian medico-legal history, against Dr. Mukherjee and some other doctors/AMRI hospital in a second historic judgment in 2013. The Supreme Court has also made scathing criticism for professional misconduct against Dr. Mukherjee and dubbed his conduct as “unbecoming of a doctor” and who has brought “great disrespect for the medical profession”. The PIL has claimed that appointment of Dr. Mukherjee to the coveted post as a senior medical member for the Health Commission has undermined sanctity of the Apex Court and it also has violated Article 144 of Indian Constitution that mandates that all authority in India, civil and judicial, must act in aid of Supreme Court.
PBT launched a new branch in Mumbai under supervision of Mrs. Nalini Suchdeb, who is a victim herself and has been fighting a long battle for justice after her mother died from alleged medical negligence in Bombay Hospital. Founded in 2001 by Dr. Kunal Saha following his wife’s untimely death from gross medical negligence by top doctors and AMRI hospital in Kolkata, PBT has played a key role to instill a semblance of accountability for the errant doctors, to eradicate the rampant corruption in the medical regulatory authorities including MCI and state medical councils and to help the innocent victims of medical negligence (see news below).
PBT is not anti-doctors, it is only against the corrupt and negligent doctors. Apart from Dr. Saha, several other honest and prominent Indian doctors who are also involved with battle against medical corruption including Dr. Sunil Pandya, noted neurosurgeon from Mumbai and ex-Editor of Indian Journal of Medical Ethics (IJME), were also present in the inauguration program on July 2, 2017 and called for the urgent need for all compassionate and “good” doctors of India to stand up against the corrupt and unscrupulous medical leaders who have been plundering the medical education and healthcare system in India. All conscientious citizens who want to join hands in our battle against medical corruption and all victims of alleged medical negligence in the Mumbai area who are looking for help in finding medical justice are urged to contact PBT’s new Mumbai coordinator, Mrs. Suchdeb at 9867287911.
PBT will launch a new branch in Mumbai to offer help and guidance to the hapless patients in the Mumbai and surrounding area. For this purpose, an open public seminar will be held at Marathi Patrakar Sangh (next to Mumbai Press Club) at Patrakar Bhavan, Mahapalika Marg, Azad Maidan Fort (next to Mumbai Press Club) on Saturday (July 1) at 5 PM where PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha and many other honest doctors and social activists will also be present. All conscientious doctors, ordinary citizens and victims of “medical negligence” are invited to attend this historic occasion. Admission if free. More information may be obtained from Ms. Nalini Suchde (Tel: 9867287911) who will be PBT’s coordinator for the Mumbai area. Dr. Saha may also be reached directly at his local (Delhi) cell phone at 9958744305 or via email at ANKU@AOL.COM.
In a rare move by the Medical Council of India (MCI), 7 Kolkata-based doctors were found guilty by the highest medical authority in India. MCI has directed the state medical council (WBMC)to take appropriate steps to suspend the negligent doctors’ medical registration for a period of 1 year. Both these victims came to PBT after their loved ones died from alleged medical negligence. PBT helped and guided these victims to lodge an appeal under Section 8.7 of MCI Code of Ethics & Regulations, 2002 after WBMC remained silent and refused to investigate complaints against the doctors for more than six months. It may be noted that Section 8.7 (right to appeal to MCI if a state medical council does not investigation within a period of 6 months) was enacted into law in 2004 as a result of a historic PIL filed by PBT in the Supreme Court (W.P. Civil No. 316/2000).
Drs. Ravi Bhardwaj, Prasenjit Sarkar, Debraj Roy, Prasun Halder, Atul Bajpayee and Arindam Sarkar of ILS Hospital in Dumdum, Kolkata were found negligent for causing death of 35-year old Indrajit Roy, a recent PhD graduate and son of Ranjit Roy, a retired bank executive and now an active PBT government body member, died from gross negligence after he suffered a simple fall from the stairs and ruptured a vessel in abdomen. Doctors in this premier hospital simply ignored the serious bleeding internally which eventually led to unfortunate death.
In the other case, an elderly mother of Somenath Chakrobarty, worker in a local factory, was taken to the ESI Hospital in Maniktola, Kolkata after she complained of chest pain but she was returned home with any real treatment and eventually died. Dr. Darpanarayan Datta was found guilty by MCI and his license was also ordered by MCI to be suspended for a period of 1 year (see news below).
Although PBT welcome this new development from MCI, it is unlikely that any of these negligent doctors are likely to stop their practice anytime soon. We have at least 17 doctors whose medical registrations have been suspended by MCI over the last several years as a result of our relentless fight and the new provisions in Section 8.7/8.8, the respective state medical councils have refused to accept MCI’s order in all these cases. The WBMC never even suspended the registration of the most notorious of these cases, i.e. Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee whose license was directed to be canceled by MCI for wrongful death of Anuradha Saha, wife of PBT president Dr. Kunal Saha. A legal battle is still going on in this matter.
In a major case of medical negligence with a claim of Rs. 12 crore for wrongful death of a doctor’s husband against Apollo Gleneagles Hospital in Kolkata, PBT president Dr. Kunal Saha personally appeared on behalf of the victim before the circuit bench of National Consumer Forum (NCDRC) on Tuesday (June 20) and argued against Apollo’s claim that the case should be dismissed summarily because the compensation sought was too excessive. After hearing both parties, a bench of Justices Mr. Ajit Bhariahoke and Mrs. Rekha Gupta rejected hospital’s petition and said that the final quantum of compensation will be decided only after the trial based on evidences.
The advocates for Apollo Hospital also challenged participation of Dr. Saha to represent the complainant/victim on the plea that the complainant already has an advocate and that Dr. Saha is not a licensed attorney. Dr. Saha admitted that he is a medical doctor and not a licensed attorney and that he and his organization’s (PBT) sole purpose is to help the hapless victims of medical negligence find justice. Dr. Saha also submitted that he has appeared and argued many other victims of medical negligence before the district, state and national consumer courts as well as in the Supreme Court of India but he or PBT has been helping victims all over India without ever taking a rupee from anybody. Dr. Saha further submitted that in fact he has been spending lakhs of rupees of his own money in order to help these victims that include expenses for his travel (from his country of residence in USA), hotel and food etc. This case involves death of a retired engineer, Mr. Asok Das, husband of Dr. Kalyani Das Sarkar, who died at the Apollo Hospital following a simple investigation to test his heart (cardio angiogram) as a result of a botched up procedure. The case will be heard on merit next on 13th November, 2017. Dr. Saha has come to India earlier this month only to help several victims of alleged medical negligence in their court cases pending before the consumer courts in different states (see news below).
PBT held an open public seminar on Rogi Divas (“Patients’ Day”) this week where an urgent memorandum was sent to the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) president urging him to form a fast-track court for quick disposal of cases involving alleged medical negligence by doctors and hospitals (see news reports below). While acknowledging that the consumer courts have brought a ray of hope for the hapless victims of medical negligence in India under the Consumer Protection Act (CPA), PBT has stressed that inordinate delays extending to several years and decades in disposal of complaints against the errant doctors/hospitals have brought a great deal of frustration for the victims of medical negligence. PBT has requested the NCDRC president to establish separate fast-track courts for handling only cases involving medical negligence for expedited disposal rather than, as is the norm today, all consumer complaints, much of which involves ordinary commercial disputes, are tagged together with cases of medical malpractice that truly involves vital question of life and death for the ordinary people.
PBT calls all conscientious citizens and victims of “medical negligence” across India to observe Rogi Divas (Patients’ Day) on Sunday (May 28). Patients’ Day is to spread better awareness about medical and legal rights of all patients and to establish a timely justice delivery system for all victims of alleged “medical negligence”. While MCI Code of Medical Ethics and Regulations and Consumer Protection Act (CPA) have provided legal as well as medical regulatory power for protection of the defenseless patients from careless or negligent treatment by doctors and hospitals, it is a common knowledge today that medical councils, that are in charge of taking disciplinary action against errant doctors, primarily function to shield their delinquent medical colleagues without any concern for the hapless patients. Even the Consumer Courts in India have failed to deliver timely justice as cases against the wealthy and influential doctors/hospitals languish in the court for years and decades.
To celebrate Rogi Divas, PBT will hold an open public seminar at 4 pm on Sunday (May 28) at Calcutta Press Club (near Maidan, Kolkata) where all conscientious citizens and victims of “medical negligence” are invited to attend and raise their voices demanding medical justice for all. You can contact 9831983670 or 9143650171 for more information about this public seminar.
All members of the Medical Council of India (MCI) unanimously passed a motion during their last General Body (GB) meeting (just posted on MCI website) specifically to congratulate the disgraced Dr. Ketan Desai who is still free on bail waiting for his criminal trial on charges bribery and corruption after he was arrested by the CBI in 2010. As can be seen on page 7 of the minutes of this GB meeting:
“Dr.Ved Prakash Mishra moved an informal congratulatory resolution on the achievement of the highest position of World Medical Association by Former President of Medical Council of India, Dr.Ketan Desai and the whole house seconded and extended their committed heartfelt congratulations to Dr.Desai. A congratulatory letter be sent to Dr.Desai on behalf of MCI in this regard.”
While the entire country and even the international medical community are well aware about the corrupt nature of Dr. Ketan Desai, as recently held in an editorial published in the prestigious international “British Medical Journal” (BMJ), there can be little doubt that the doctor-leaders who are running the healthcare and medical education system in MCI are nothing but cronies of this disgraced ex-MCI chief, Dr. Ketan Desai. Unfortunately, the ultimate price of this wide-spread medical corruption will be paid by the defenseless patients across India.
Leaders of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) have frequently claimed that lack of adequate infrastructure and too much workload in Indian hospitals and nursing homes are responsible for doctors committing more mistakes and medical malpractice. Top international medical journal, British Medical Journal (BMJ), has categorically undermined any such notions as BMJ in a report published this week has reported that according to the medico-legal experts, law would not accept any view that a lack of adequate resources or excessive workload in hospitals as a defense in cases involving gross medical negligence (“Workload pressure no defense against clinical negligence, barrister warns” by Abi Rimmer, BMJ 2017: 357, j2103). The BMJ report has advised that the argument that UK government’s healthcare system (NHS) has not allocated enough financial resources for running government hospitals cannot provide any shield for doctors who are facing charges of criminal negligence causing death of a patient. While a number of doctors in UK have been jailed after conviction for criminal negligence (“manslaughter”) causing death of a patient through reckless treatment, in history of Indian medicine, not a single bona fide allopathic physician has ever been convicted for criminal negligence under Section 304A of Indian Penal Code (IPC) that carries a maximum jail sentence of 2 years, fine or both. Even in the most well-known medical negligence case for death of Anuradha Saha, although three senior doctors (Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee, Dr. Baidyanath Halder and Dr. Abani Roychowdhury) were convicted under IPC 304A and sentenced for 3 months jail by the trial court, their conviction was eventually overturned by the Supreme Court on the ground of “cumulative negligence” (suggesting that some other junior doctors, who were not charged criminally, also contributed, albeit to a minimal level, to Anuradha’s eventual death).
In an unprecedented move exposing the deep-rooted corruption inside the Medical Council of India (MCI) and Indian Medical Association (IMA) that seemingly worked together to put Dr. Ketan Desai, perhaps the most notorious and corrupt doctor in Indian medical history, to the coveted post of president of World Medical Association (WMA), an unprecedented editorial published last week in the world-renowned “British Medical Journal” (BMJ) has called to remove Dr. Desai from WMA and asked for a complete overhaul of the world medical body (see BMJ editorial attached). PBT and other well-minded medical groups across the globe have long been fighting the reinstatement of disgraced Dr. Desai to the post of WMA president ever since a group of senior IMA leaders presented a blatantly false claim before the WMA that all charges against Dr. Desai have been dropped by the Indian government. But despite strong objection raised immediately by PBT that this was an absolutely false claim by IMA because the main CBI “trap” case against Dr. Desai for alleged bribery and corruption is waiting at the Patiala House Court in Delhi for criminal trial to begin. But WMA kept blind eyes to the objections by PBT and other medical groups and made Dr. Desai as their president last year anyway underscoring that medical corruption has probably reached far beyond the shores of India. The scathing editorial published in BMJ provides further corroboration to this notion that medical leaders in MCI/IMA are hands in gloves with some devious members of the world medical body who are trying desperately to restore the grossly tarnished image of criminally-indicted Dr. Ketan Desai.
Disgraced ex-MCI president, Dr. Ketan Desai, was caught red-handed by the CBI on 22nd April, 2010 for taking a huge bribe from a private medical college allegedly in exchange of granting MCI recognition to admit MBBS students. Seven years later, criminal trial against Dr. Desai is still delayed on one ground or another as Desai roams free on bail. During this long delay in the justice delivery system, Desai also managed to recapture the coveted post of World Medical Association (WMA) president (with help from his unprincipled medical cronies in MCI/IMA) by virtue of which, the biggest medical mafia in Indian medicine attends conferences and delivers lectures on medical ethics and good medical practice. This is the irony for the “good” doctors and millions of hapless patients of India.
When the criminal case against Desai came up for hearing last month before the CBI court in Patiala House in Delhi, one of the co-accused in the same corruption case, Mr. J.P. Singh (who was allegedly involved as a conduit for bribing Dr. Desai) was allowed to travel to USA/UK on a personal ground and as such, the case was adjourned again to 25th May, 2017. The long and sordid saga of Dr. Ketan Desai and deep-rooted corruption in the MCI and IMA has not only damaged credibility of the entire medical community in India, it has also caused further erosion in public trust on doctors. We hope that the CBI will work harder to bring justice to all the corrupt individuals including Dr. Desai who are responsible for the present abysmal condition of medical education and healthcare delivery system in India.
Lately, Indian Medical Association (IMA), largest doctors’ club and other doctors’ groups across India have started strong movements by crippling hospital services through “doctors’ strike” to protest against physical assaults on doctors and hospital services causing endless pain and suffering for countless innocent patients. The powerful medical lobbies have also exerted pressure on state and central governments to implement new criminal laws seeking non-bailable warrants and up to 14 years of imprisonment for any relatives/friends of the alleged victim of “medical negligence” accused of any attacks on doctor and hospital vandalism. Some states like West Bengal have already enacted such draconian laws only to protect members of the medical profession.
PBT has never condoned any form of physical violence against doctors and hospitals. We also want that government must be able to provide adequate protection against physical attacks against any citizen and members of all profession including doctors. The Code of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and Indian Penal Code (IPC) already have several legal provisions for criminal prosecution against physical violence and destruction of property. In addition, civil laws also provide added protection against any loss due to physical destruction of life and property. What is the justification to make new laws only for protection of our healers? Under Section 304A of CrPC, when a doctor is found guilty for causing death of a patient due to gross medical negligence, the maximum punishment is imprisonment for up to 2 years – ironically, no doctor has ever been sentenced to jail for 2 years in Indian medical history.
Now IMA wants new criminal law to put a deeply aggrieved and otherwise peaceful family member of an alleged victim of medical negligence in jail for 14 years even if he makes a minimal threat after witnessing his loved one dying from reckless treatment and losing mental momentary control. Doctors in India also need to think why incidence of doctor bashing or hospital vandalism is simply unimaginable in developed countries like USA and UK. It is because people in USA/UK have trust on their medical regulatory system as medical councils in the West routinely held many doctors guilty for medical negligence and take stringent disciplinary action by canceling their medical registration. In sharp contrast, Medical Council of India (MCI) and state medical councils in India are riddled with corruption that function only shield their errant medical colleagues without caring for the lives of the defenseless patients as virtually no doctor is found guilty by the doctor-only members of the medical councils in India. A repot written by PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, on this burning issue is published in this week’s British Medical Journal (BMD) (see below)
In a desperate attempt to suppress information about Ethics Committee investigation of complaints of medical negligence and status of investigation of complaint against disgraced Dr. Ketan Desai, Medical Council of India (MCI) moved a frivolous writ petition in Delhi High Court challenging the recent order passed by Central Information Commission (CIC) directing MCI to provide PBT all information in regard to Ethics Committee investigation of complaints against doctors and long-standing investigation of Dr. Desai whose license was suspended by the MCI in 2010. The CIC passed this order on February 2, 2017 directing MCI to provide the requested information within 3 weeks after MCI refused to provide any information after PBT filed an application under RTI Act, 2005 seeking the relevant information for public interest. Instead of coming clean in a transparent manner to disclose the information as directed by the CIC, MCI obtained an ex perte stay from Delhi High Court on the ground that Dr. Kunal Saha, PBT president, is a USA citizen and as such, has no right to obtain information under RTI Act, 2005.
Ironically, the RTI application seeking information from MCI was not filed by Dr. Saha, but by PBT vide an RIT application signed on behalf of PBT by Mr. Ranjit Sarkar, a PBT governing body member and resident of Kolkata. Dr. Saha only appeared and argued the case before CIC during the final hearing of this matter in January, 2017. Thus, MCI has willfully misguided the court to obtain this stay order in order to avoid disclosure of their continued support for the disgraced ex-MCI head, Dr. Ketan Desai and also to suppress the botched investigation of numerous complaints of “medical negligence” by MCI Ethics Committee where hardly any doctor is found guilty. In any event, in a similar case (refusals to provide information under RTI Act by West Bengal Medical Council to Dr. Kunal Saha on his citizenship status, Supreme Court categorically held in 2007 that Dr. Saha has right to obtain RTI information as an overseas citizen of India). PBT will move against this vengeful act by the highest medical regulatory body and demand exemplary punishment against MCI.
In another overtly uncaring move for the lives of the defenseless patients, thousands of doctors in government and private hospitals across Mumbai started strike and mass casual leave bringing the entire healthcare delivery system to its knees and causing endless misery and death of at least 57 patients, according to published report. This “doctors’ strike” was initiated in demand of increased security after alleged assault on a doctor by aggrieved patient-party. PBT has long held an wavering view that doctor bashing and hospital vandalism cannot be condoned under any condition, even when there is ample evidence of gross medical negligence, because one wrong can never be the cure for another wrong. But PBT also firmly believes that doctors have no legal or moral right to go on a “strike” holding the innocent patients at ransom. Moreover, “doctors’ strike” clearly violates the MCI Code of Ethics & Regulations, 2002 and it clearly goes against the fundamental principles of the Hippocratic Oath that all doctors must take before starting to care for the ailing citizens.
In response to our PIL against doctors’ strike, Supreme Court of India passed a historic judgment on 15th November, 2014 (W.P. No. 253/2012; PBT vs. MCI & Ors.) in which the Apex Court held that strike by doctors may be deemed as “negligence” and the striking doctors are liable for disciplinary action by the medical council. In view of this categorical observations made by the SC, PBT has submitted a formal complaint with the MCI and Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC) requesting them to take exemplary disciplinary action against the striking doctors failing which PBT will move the appropriate court seeking contempt against the MCI and MMC. While IMA has defended the striking doctors without caring for the loss of innocent patients’ lives, Indian medical community needs to ponder why unfortunate incidence of doctor bashing by irate crowd and “doctors’ strike” are unheard of in developed countries like UK and USA. Until the common people are provided with a truly impartial and honest platform (e.g. medical council or Commission) where they feel that they have a chance of finding justice against the errant medicos, occasional attacks on doctors/hospitals by otherwise peaceful and law-abiding citizens who lose control of their minds under acute grief after witnessing their loved dying from reckless treatment are not likely to end anytime soon.
Riding on a populist message against medical negligence and unethical practice by private doctors and hospitals, Mamata Banerjee recently rushed a new healthcare Bill through the assembly (W.B. Clinical Establishments Registration, Regulation and Transparency Act, 2017) to entrap public sympathy, she disclosed today the names of members of the supremely powerful “Commission” that, as per these new provisions, will decide allegations by all aggrieved patients. Shockingly, Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee, convicted by the Supreme Court for his unethical behavior and gross medical negligence causing death of Anuradha Saha, has been chosen by Mamata Banerjee as a senior medical member of the “Commission”. In fact, in Anuradha Saha case, Apex Court has not only held Dr. Mukherjee as the most “reckless” physician, it has also severely criticized him for his unethical conduct and dubbed his conduct as “unbecoming of a doctor“. Although it is no secret that Banerjee government has been staunching backing Dr. Mukherjee to rebuild his badly tarnished public image for many years (Dr. Mukherjee was also chosen as the “chief adviser” for the Bengal health department in 2012 against which a PIL is presently pending before the Apex Court),it is truly startling to find that the state government would go this far to select the biggest “negligent” physician to investigate complaints of medical negligence. This brazen selection by Mamata Banerjee also undermines sanctity of the Supreme Court and violates Article 144 of Indian Constitution that has mandated that all authorities, civil and judicial, must always act in aid of the Supreme Court. PBT president Dr. Kunal Saha has submitted an urgent memorandum with Bengal chief minister today urging her to immediately remove Dr. Mukherjee from this Commission. Dr. Saha has also said that if Banerjee government remains silent, he will take this matter to the court for ends of justice. It is a shame that the self-proclaimed government of Ma, Mati and Manush (mother, land and humans) is truly hoodwinking the ordinary people (manush) with bogus hope for justice against medical neglgience.
The Clinical Establishments (Registration, Regulation and Transparency) Bill, 2017 passed last week by Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal to rein in private hospitals and doctors has not only generated a great deal of public interest in West Bengal because the Bill has several strong provisions aimed at curbing medical negligence and unethical practice by doctors in private hospitals including possible charge for “culpable homicide” by an independent Commission in the event of gross medical negligence, it has also exposed the shameless stance of IMA which is solely dependent on their political affiliation but nothing to do with welfare for the patients or improving the badly tarnished doctor-patient relationship. The Bill has been sharply criticized by Dr. K.K. Aggarwal, president of national IMA in Delhi which is known to be heavily populated by doctors belonging to the BJP. In sharp contrast, IMA leaders in Kolkata, all of whom are backed by the Mamata Banerjee’s ruling Trinomool party, have nothing but high praise for the same Bill (see front-page news in The Telegraph below). The true color of IMA, the largest doctor-only club in India, is crystal clear from this sharply opposing views of the same Bill. Our doctor-leaders have no principles or moral values as, depending on the day, they would not hesitate to take position whatever serves their selfish personal and political purposes.
A much hyped Bill (W.B. Clinical Establishment Registration, Regulations, Transparency Bill, 2017) was passed today in West Bengal assembly by the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinomool government claiming that this new law would rein in unethical practice and medical negligence in the state. Ms. Banerjee has also made boisterous claims that this is a truly remarkable Bill that will form a “model” for the rest of the country and bring “historic” changes in practice of medicine. But is this Bill a truly new innovation by the Trinomool government and will it really bring any change in the crumbling medical system in West Bengal or this is just another gimmick manufactured by a political leader to hoodwink ordinary people? Several questions must be raised in view of this new Bill:
1) Is this Bill truly new as claimed by the CM? The answer is a categorical “NO”. Previous Left-front govt. in West Bengal made the W.B. Clinical Establishment Act (CEA), 2010 which is virtually similar to this new Bill except that the new Bill has recommended to raise the amount of compensation to be paid to the victim’s family. The problem with the previous CEA, 2010 is that the laws were never implemented by both the Left-front and Trinomool governments under influence of the powerful doctors’ lobby (IMA).
2) If Banerjee govt. is truly interested to go after the unscrupulous doctors and hospitals, why they remained virtually silent for the past 6 years as hapless patients continued to die from rampant medical negligence across West Bengal?
3) The Bill proposes to form a new regulatory “Commission” that would investigate and take action against the errant medicos. Why do we need a new regulatory “Commission” – the state already has one for more than 100 years which is known as “West Bengal Medical Council” (WBMC). The WBMC is a den of corruption under the control of doctors belonging to the Trinomool party as the record over the past 6 years would demonstrate without any doubt. Mamata Banerjee, being both CM and Health Minister has kept a blind eye to PBT’s and countless other medical victims repeated pleas for justice.
4) Perhaps most importantly, the new Bill is applicable only for private hospitals and even if patients die from reckless medical malpractice in any government hospital, the Bill will do nothing against the delinquent doctors and hospitals. Banerjee government has claimed that 70% of state population seek medical help in government hospitals because they can’t afford the high price of treatment in private hospitals. So, do the lives of the poor people have no value in the eyes of this government of “Ma, Mathi and Manush”?
In a historic judgment delivered on 2nd February, 2017, the Central Information Commission (CIC) directed the Medical Council of India (MCI) to provide all information pertaining to the case against disgraced ex-MCI president, Dr. Ketan Desai, and to put up detail of the minutes of the Ethics Committee meetings on investigation of complaints or medical negligence or ethical violations by doctors in India on MCI website within a maximum period of three weeks. This case was filed by the PBT under the RTI Act, 2005 after repeated requests for information were denied by the MCI. After more than four weeks, MCI has brazenly flouted CIC’s order and refused to provide any information despite repeated reminders from the PBT. When PBT tried to contact MCI Secretary, Dr. Reena Nayaar, who is also the Appellate Authority for RTI Act in MCI, she refused to answer any question and disconnected the phone. PBT has lodged a new appeal with the CIC today bringing this deplorable act by the MCI and requesting the highest information commission in India to take exemplary punitive action against MCI and Dr. Reena Nayaar for their deliberate and contemptuous behavior.
Bengal chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, took the stage yesterday with Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee, the most notorious and reckless physician in India as held by the Supreme Court of India in Anuradha Saha death case, standing next to her to declare that a new “Commission” will be formed to investigate complaints of negligent and unethical treatment by private hospitals in Kolkata. The Trinomool party supremo, Mamata Banerjee, is also the health minister of West Bengal for the past six years and complaints of malpractice and unethical activities (such as over billing, commission) as complaints against doctors and hospitals have piled up in state medical council and health department. Instead of taking action of cleansing the existing regulatory body, i.e.. medical council which is virtually run by doctors belonging to her party, Banerjee’s promise to establish a new regulatory body to help the victims of medical negligence appears to be nothing but a hog wash for the Bengal people. Ironically, a historic case against Mamata Banerjee is currently pending before the Supreme Court for final hearing on 23rd March, 2017 for alleged helping to promote Dr. Mukherjee in candid violation of Article 144 of Indian Constitution that stipulates that all courts and civil authorities must always obey the Supreme Court and act in the aid of the Apex Court.
Mr. M.N. Krishnamani, renowned Sr. Advocate and four times president of the Supreme Court Bar Association has passed away from sudden cardiac failure earlier this week in Bangalore. Apart from his numerous noteworthy legal performances in the Supreme Court and High Courts over the past almost four decades, Mr. Krishnamani was given the prestigious Padmashree Award last year for his outstanding contribution to the society. He has been a long-standing legal counsel for the PBT and appeared in many historic public interest litigations (PILs) over the past 17 years that have already brought major changes toward improving the standard of healthcare and medical education in India. Mr. Krishnamani also appeared on behalf of many hapless victims of medical negligence including the historic case of Anuradha Saha. It will be difficult to find any attorney in India who is more efficient and knowledgable in cases involving “medical negligence” and Constitution of India. Over the years, Mr. Krishnamani also became a mentor and close friend of PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha. He visited Dr. Saha in USA on several occasions including a trip last summer (see picture of Mr. Krishnamani and Dr. Saha below at Disney World in Florida). PBT and ordinary people of India will deeply miss the unselfish contribution by the most kind and truly devoted senior advocate and social reformer, Mr. M.N. Krishnamani.
According to the information obtained from the special bench (Prevention of Corruption Act) in the CBI Patiala House Court in New Delhi for hearing of the criminal case for alleged bribery and corruption against disgraced ex-MCI president, Dr. Ketan Desai, the case was adjourned today (February 6) to 23rd February, 2017 for next hearing for “consideration of renewal of passport” (see court Order below). This historic criminal case against Dr. Desai started almost 7 years ago after Desai (then sitting MCI president) was caught red-handed by the CBI in a sting operation in April, 2010 for taking a bribe of Rs. 2 crore from a private medical college allegedly in exchange of granting MCI recognition to start new MBBS course. After staying in jail for six months, Desai was released on bail in October, 2010. As the case has languished in the Indian judicial system, Desai managed to promote himself to the prestigious post of World Medical Association (WMA) president last year through blatant lies by several senior MCI and IMA members that all criminal charges against Dr. Desai have been dropped by the Indian authority evan as his medical registration remains suspended by the MCI.
In a landmark decision that may have far-reaching consequences in our fight against medical corruption, Central Information Commission (CIC) has delivered scathing criticism of the Medical Council of India (MCI) for their deliberate attempt to suppress information related to a wide-range of healthcare issues including investigation of complaints of “medical negligence”, appointment of Inspectors for medical colleges and ongoing investigation of disgraced ex-MCI president, Dr. Ketan Desai (see the CIC Judgment below). This matter emerged after PBT sought information (under RTI Act, 2005) from MCI about their failure to upload Ethics Committee investigation of doctors since 2013 and their reluctance to provide any response to critical questions like the status of medical license of Dr. Ketan Desai or about the qualification of medical inspectors hired by the MCI to inspect medical colleges for approval or disapproval to teach medical courses.
After MCI provided blatantly evasive response to the specific questions posed by the PBT, appeal was filed with the CIC against the sinister role of the MCI. PBT President, Dr. Kunal Saha, personally appeared to argue this matter on behalf of PBT before the CIC during his recent trip to India and CIC has delivered this historic judgment today. Almost on every issue raised by the PBT, CIC has agreed with the PBT and directed MCI to come clean and provide the answers within 3 weeks time. Better transparency with investigation of complaints against doctors including the more than 6 years long investigation of disgraced Ketan Desai (who is still free on bail, waiting for criminal trial on serious charges for bribery) will go a long way toward removing the rampant corruption in India’s healthcare delivery and medical education systems.
While the Modi government has been clamoring for more transparency to build a “clean” Bharat in order to gather public support, a quick glance to the Medical Council of India website (www.mciindia.org) would demonstrate how corruption and non-transparency are still is the name of the game in the highest government body for regulation of healthcare and medical education. Complaints against doctors for medical negligence and ethical violation are supposed to be investigated and appropriate disciplinary action against the guilty doctors to be taken by members of the MCI Ethics Committee.
It is a common knowledge today that despite frequent news of horrific death of patients from alleged medical negligence, hardly any doctors are held “guilty” by the MCI. Even more shocking, no information is shown whatsoever on MCI website about the proceedings (“minutes”) of the MCI Ethics Committee meetings held since 2013. Although detail minutes of the Ethics Committee meetings were regularly posted on MCI website for public view for 2011, 2012 and 2013, it abruptly stopped on 18th October, 2013. Ironically, the present MCI members (most of whom are well-known cronies of disgraced ex-MCI president, Dr. Ketan Desai) came to power in December, 2013. So, it is obvious that the present MCI does not want to show what goes on behind closed doors to investigate their allegedly negligent and unethical medical colleagues. Do we need to explain why? Will the Modi government and health minister, Mr. J.P. Nadda, wake up and take immediate measures to cleanse the obvious corruption inside the highest medical regulatory body in India? PBT has already lodged a complaint with the Central Information Commission against this overt non-transparency inside the MCI. Hearing has been concluded on 9th January, 2017 and an important judgment is awaited.
What is viewed as a truly extraordinary move by any court of law and especially the highest court of the land, Supreme Court bench of chief justice Mr. J.S. Khehar and Mr. D.Y. Chandrachud refused to admit a special leave petition (SLP) filed by PBT president Dr. Kunal Saha against the West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) for not taking any disciplinary action against Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee who was primarily responsible for the wrongful death of Dr. Saha’s wife, Anuradha Saha. Dr. Mukherjee was held for gross medical negligence by the SC in 2009 and another bench of the Apex Court awarded the highest ever compensation in 2013 against Dr. Mukherjee and two other doctors as well as AMRI hospital in Kolkata. The Medical Council of India (MCI) also found Dr. Mukherjee guilty for “professional misconduct” and directed the state council to suspend Dr. Mukherjee’s medical license to practice in 2011. But WBMC has maintained that there was nothing wrong with Dr. Mukherjee’s treatment and refused to take any disciplinary action against him despite the Apex Court and MCI’s direction.
Dr. Saha appeared in person before the SC on Friday and made a compassionate plea that the state medical council is doing a great disservice to the society and unless SC steps in to prevent this blatant wrong by the doctors-only members of WBMC, more Anuradhas will continue to die tomorrow. Although the CJI expressed sympathy for Dr. Saha and agreed that no amount of punishment can compensate his loss, the Apex Court also made an incredible jump of logic that Dr. Saha should refrain from fighting more litigations on this case because the guilty doctors have already been punished and most shockingly, the CJI declared that Anuradha would not “rest in peace” as long as Dr. Saha continues legal battle against the doctors who were responsible for her death. The front-page story published in Telegraph has painted an accurate picture what happened in the courtroom on Friday (see below). The court did not get into the vital question that was raised in this SLP, i.e. What happens when a doctor is found negligent by the court of law but the medical council finds nothing wrong with the treatment? Did such action by the WBMC not undermine the sanctity of the Apex Court in clear violation of Article 144 of Indian Constitution that all civil and judicial bodies in India must work in aid of the Supreme Court? Dr. Saha has said that he would file a Review petition against this SC decision.
In a historic and unprecedented order passed against Dr. Alok Khan, an neurosurgeon from Kolkata accused of causing death of a patient from a botched brain surgery, division bench presided by Justice D.K. Jain, president of the National Consumer Forum (NCDRC), has directed Dr. Khan and the nursing home (owned by Dr. Khan) to pay a penalty of Rs. 1 lakh “for their absence before the State Commission as well as for the delay in the complaint attaining finality” (see the NCDRC Judgment below).
Shamali Sikdar, widow of the alleged victim, came to PBT in 2012 seeking help in her quest for justice after her husband died following a botched surgery for a non-malignant brain tumor. Dr. Kunal Saha, PBT president, argued before the State Commission in West Bengal on behalf of the victim while the accused doctor delayed the proceedings for years by not accepting legal notice from the court. The State Commission eventually delivered an ex perte verdict last year awarding Rs. 25.5 lakh (including Rs. 50,000 as legal cost) against Dr. Khan against which the doctor moved the NCDRC. While remanding the case back to the State Commission to give an opportunity to the accused doctor to put up his defense, NCDRC has also directed that the matter must be completed within a period of 6 months. Further, considering PBT’s benevolent attempt to pro bono help for the victim and Dr. Saha’s situation, NCDRC has also directed that the State Commission should consider the fact that Dr. Saha is generally a resident of USA while fixing the hearing dates.
A new writ petition (PIL) is filed in the Supreme Court of India seeking direction to the Medical Council of India (MCI) and Indian government to take steps for immediate removal of disgraced ex-MCI president, Dr. Ketan Desai, from the post of World Medical Association (WMA) president. The PIL has also sought stringent disciplinary action against three long-term Desai supporters and senior MCI/IMA members (Dr. Ajay Kumar, Dr. Vinay Aggarwal and Dr. Sudipto Roy) for their blatant lie before the WMA that all charges against Dr. Desai have been withdrawn by the Indian authority that recently prompted the world medical body to reinstate Dr. Desai as WMA president. Dr. Desai is still waiting for his criminal trial to begin in the CBI ‘trap” case after he was caught red-handed for taking 2 crore rupees from a private medical college in exchange of granting MCI recognition to admit MBBS students when Desai was still the MCI president in 2010. PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, has traveled to India to further this and other medico-legal cases and to promote PBT’s continued battle against medical negligence and healthcare corruption. The new PIL is likely to be listed for hearing after the Supreme Court reopens on January 3.
PBT is planning to organize a massive public rally in central Kolkata on Thursday (December 29, 2016) demanding expedited justice for the victims of medical negligence and cleansing of the medical councils that have been riddled with corruption. Despite frequent reports of death of innocent patients from reckless treatment and wide-spread healthcare corruption appearing in the news on a regular basis, hardly any doctor is found guilty by the medical regulatory authorities. Legal proceedings for compensation against the errant doctors are also languishing in the consumer courts for years and decades because large number of consumer complaints against trivial defective commercial products are stacked together with serious cases of death from alleged medical negligence. PBT plans to raise these important issues that are crippling the medical system through peaceful public protest rally starting at 1 pm from Esplanade (Y-Channel) on December 29 2016. All victims of medical negligence and conscientious citizens are invited to join this public rally to make our voice heard for a better healthcare delivery system in the future. PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, will also join this public rally coming from USA. Please contact PBT head office at 9143650171/9831983670/9836706952 for more information.
In a scathing rebuke to the editorial questioning the decision to promote disgraced Dr. Ketan Desai to the post of World Medical Association (WMA) president published last month in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) (see original editorial below),Indian Medical Association (IMA) president-elect, Dr. K.K. Aggarwal, has not only staunchly defended Dr. Desai, he has also viciously attacked the authors of the BMJ editorial and suggested that they criticized Dr. Desai because they all had “vested interests” (see the BMJ correspondences below). However, Dr. Aggarwal, who frequently goes before the media in vociferous support of Dr. Desai, has provided absolutely no evidence as how the editors of a highly regarded international medical journal may have any interest for going against Dr. Desai.
Even more shockingly, Dr. Aggarwal has also said that IMA has already drawn conclusion that Dr. Desai is absolutely innocent in the main CBI bribery case (for which Dr. Desai was arrested in 2010 for accepting Rs. 2 crore from Gyan Sagar Medical College allegedly in exchange to granting MCI permission to admit MBBS students) based on information including internal reports from the health department. Ironically, CBI has already filed charge-sheet in this case with specific evidence of criminal wrongdoing against Dr. Desai who is waiting for the trial to begin. Does IMA leaders know more than the top law-enforcing agency in India or is it only a disgraceful attempt by Desai cronies who are in charge of the IMA and MCI to obstruct the course of justice to sway the course of the criminal trial for Dr. Desai, the biggest medical mafia in Indian medical history?
Doctors across India, under the guidance of IMA leaders who recently backed disgraced ex-MCI president Dr. Ketan Desai to the prestigious post of World Medical Association (WMA) president, have started public demonstration in protest of the proposed National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill that plans to instill new changes for accountability in the widely-known MCI corruption including laws to bring non-doctor members in regulation of medical education and practice of medicine in India. The IMA leaders have demanded that government must bring changes in law so that no doctor can be sued for medical negligence under the Consumer Protection Act (CPA). While the BJP government has proposed many plans over the past two years seemingly for better protection of patients and against medical corruption, almost all of these anti-corruption proposals have proved to be nothing more than empty political gimmick until now. PBT president has called these IMA demonstrations as obvious attempts to further shield healthcare and MCI corruption (see the news at this link http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/bengaluru/2016/nov/16/doctors-to-stage-protest-against-scrapping-of-medical-council-act-1539150.html).
All leaders of the national IMA including its president-elect, Dr. K.K. Aggarwal, are nothing but cronies of the tainted ex-MCI chief, Dr. Ketan Desai. Even most of the leaders of the MCI are also known to be close to Dr. Desai as MCI has remained absolutely silent and refused to take any action against three of their senior members (Dr. Ajay Kumar, Dr. Sudipto Roy and Dr. Vinay Aggarwal) who were found guilty by the Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO) for unethical conduct in helping Dr. Desai to regain the post of WMA president through blatant lies that all charges against Dr. Desai have been dropped by the Indian authority. PBT has already sent a legal notice to the MCI and is planning to move a new PIL against the rampant corruption in the MCI and IMA. PBT is also organizing nation-wide public awareness programs to bring people to stand up against the wide-spread medical corruption in India.
Disgraced ex-MCI president, Dr. Ketan Desai, who was promoted last month to the post of World Medical Association (WMA) was produced in the CBI Court in New Delhi yesterday to face the ongoing criminal trial against him for alleged bribery and corruption (see Reuters report below). Although there was no hearing and the case was adjourned to February 2017, Desai ran away from the courtroom without answering any question and doctor-leaders in the WMA and Indian Medical Association (IMA) also had no response when asked about this new development.
Dr. Desai was chosen to become WMA president in 2009 but after he was caught red-handed by the CBI for taking huge bribe from a private medical college and his medical license was indefinitely suspended by the MCI in 2010, he was removed from the post of WMA president-elect. While Dr. Desai was released on bail after spending six months in jail as he waited for the criminal trial to begin, his medical cronies who are occupying top positions in the IMA and Medical Council of India (MCI) went before the WMA with a fabricated claim that all charges against Dr. Desai have been dropped by the Indian authority. Based on this fraudulent claim by the IMA/MCI leaders, WMA decided to reinstate Dr. Desai as their president last year. Although even the MCI Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO) investigated and held that IMA leaders lied before the WMA to make Dr. Desai as the WMA president as PBT repeatedly urged the WMA to remove Dr. Desai from any consideration to become WMA president, they kept blind eyes and went along with the fraudulent claim by the IMA. As the Reuters reports today (see below), neither the IMA leaders including Dr. K.K. Aggarwal, IMA president-elect and a vociferous supporter of Dr. Ketan Desai, nor the WMA leaders had any answer when asked about the court appearance by Dr. Desai today. Will the “honest” doctors of India still remain silent on the face of this broad daylight atrocity by the IMA and WMA and accept the biggest medical-mafia in Indian medicine as president of the WMA?
Home page of the website of Indian Medical Association (IMA), the largest organization of doctors in India, glaringly showers endless accolades in favor of their long-time leader and disgraced ex-MCI president, Dr. Ketan Desai, for being selected as the World Medical Association (WMA) president. The world medicine has erupted in strong protest after Dr. Desai, who is still waiting for his criminal trial to begin for alleged bribery and corruption and whose medical license still remains suspended, after Desai was recently promoted to the post of WMA president by virtue of a fabricated claim by the IMA that all charges against Desai have been dropped by the Indian government. PBT has already sent a legal notice to the MCI and Health Ministry urging them to step in to remove Desai from the WMA.
IMA, which is under control of well-known Desai cronies, has attempted to paint the biggest medical mafia of Indian medicine, Dr. Ketan Desai, almost as a saint in Indian medicine. In order to glorify Dr. Desai on his elevation to the post of WMA president, IMA has made a boisterous and unimaginable claim on their website, “Indeed a historical moment of which every Indian would feel proud was when Dr Ketan Desai took over the reins of World Medical Association as its President at 10 am on Friday 21st October 2016 at Hotel Grand Hyatt to a thundering applause by the world professional fraternity.”
While it is true that Dr. Ketan Desai is a well-known name in Indian medicine but only for all the wrong reasons. A simple google search with his name would show countless reports, almost all focusing on his long-standing corruption and his arrest by the CBI for taking a huge bribe from a private medical college in 2010. Ironically, the long and adoring IMA story does not even hint that Dr. Desai was arrested by the CBI or that he is still facing a criminal trial. The shameless drum-beat by the IMA to prop up the most corrupt medical man in Indian history will undoubtedly further erode public trust on Indian medical fraternity. It is high time that the honest and conscientious doctors of India must raise their voice of protest against this unabashed praise of Dr. Ketan Desai.
In a report published today by the popular online journal “The News Minute”, WMA Secretary-General, Dr. Otmar Kloiber and their spokesperson, Nigel Duncan, have claimed that according to their information, all cases against Dr. Ketan Desai have been dropped by the CBI and he has been given acquitted from all charges of corruption by the Indian authority. The WMA had no answer as the reporter simply pointing to the online Indian court site that clearly shows that the “Corruption Cases No. 11/12 of 2012” is still ongoing before Judge Shri Gurdeep Singh at the Patiala Court in Delhi with the last date of hearing on August 3, 2016 (see the full news report below; the report can also be accessed at the link http://www.thenewsminute.com/article/ketan-desais-election-wma-can-ethics-body-have-moral-power-if-it-cant-keep-clean-house.
Desai was installed last week as the WMA president for 2016/2017 through a seemingly fraudulent claim by the top leaders of IMA and MCI including IMA president, Dr. K.K. Aggarwal and MCI Ethics Committee members Dr. Ajay Kumar, Dr. Vinay Aggarwal and Dr. Sudipto Roy, all of whom have been well-known medical cronies for Desai for a very long time. Selection of Desai, perhaps the most corrupt medical man in Indian medical history, as the supreme leader of the world medical body has generated a huge turmoil across the international medical community. People of India are hardly any strangers to the news of corruption in our healthcare and medical education system. But the bigger question that must be raised is why the “foreign” leaders of WMA played along with this corruption to make the tainted Indian doctor as the WMA president?
In a shocking development exposing the pervasive nature of medical corruption beyond India, disgraced ex-Medical Council of India (MCI) president, Dr. Ketan Desai, was selected as the new WMA president yesterday (see news below). Dr. Desai was caught red-handed for taking huge bribe from a private medical college (when he was still MCI president) in a sting operation by the CBI in April, 2010. After spending more than 6 months in jail, Dr. Desai was released on bail as his medical license was also suspended for indefinite period by the MCI after PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, lodged a complaint for “professional misconduct” under the provisions of MCI Code of Ethics & Regulations, 2002. While Dr. Desai is still waiting for his criminal trial to begin and his medical registration remains suspended, he and his medical cronies in the MCI and IMA managed to make him president of the largest international medical organization using their political influence and evil power of corruption.
While imposing an indefinite suspension of Dr. Desai’s license, members of the newly formed MCI in 2010 (after MCI was dissolved and all members of Desai’s MCI were removed under mounting public pressure following Desai’s arrest) also directed that Dr. Desai is debarred from representing any medical group or association. With a sinister motive to repair Desai’s grossly tainted public image and to influence the outcome of his criminal prosecution, senior members of MCI/IMA including Dr. Ajay Kumar, Dr. Sudipto Roy, Dr. Vinay Aggarwal (all IMA and MCI Ethics Committee members) and long-term Desai supporter and newly elected IMA president, Dr. K.K. Aggarwal, went before the WMA and made a false claim that all charges against Dr. Desai have been dropped by the Indian authority based on which WMA decided to make Dr. Desai president of the world medical body in the most blatant and corrupt manner. Even the MCI Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO) categorically found that the senior MCI/IMA members lied before the WMA to help Dr. Desai and directed the health department to take disciplinary measures against these sitting members of MCI/IMA in a scathing report in October, 2014 (see below). Almost two years have passed, MCI and Health Ministry have remained in a deep slumber and refused to take any steps to stop the biggest medical mafia of Indian medicine and a criminally-indicted Dr. Ketan Desai from assuming the prestigious post of WMA president. PBT has sent a legal notice to the MCI president and a well-known Ketan Desai crony, Dr. Jayshree Mehta, asking her to take immediate measures, as directed by the MCI in their order of Dr. Desai’s license suspension of 2010, to remove Dr. Desai from this unlawfully acquired post of WMA president. If the MCI and Health Ministry fail to take any action, PBT will move the appropriate court of law to bring an end to this sheer atrocity that has shaken the core of Indian and world medical community.
Rabindranath Tagore Heart Institute, a top cardiac center in Kolkata, and their senior cardiologist, Dr. J. Naik, were found guilty for causing death of a retired Wing Commander, Mr. Robin Saram Verma, following an ordinary coronary angiogram (CAG) after obtaining an invalid “informed consent” from the patient without properly explaining the associated risks involved with the procedure. The three-judge bench has awarded a compensation of Rs. 3 lakh plus Rs. 25 thousand (as legal cost) to be paid by the doctor and hospital within 45 days failing which 9% interest would be added to the compensation (see news below). The observation made in this judgment may have major implications in other cases of medical negligence involving botched “informed consent”. Doctors are duty bound to obtain a valid “informed consent” from the patient/patient-party before undertaking any medical/surgical procedure after fully explaining the possible risks associated and also other options for treatment. Unfortunately, most doctors and hospitals in India blatantly violate the rules for obtaining a proper “informed consent” because they are hardly ever brought to justice for failure to obtain a properly implemented “informed consent”.
Jayeeta Verma Sarkar, daughter of the deceased military man,came to PBT in 2010 following the negligent death of her father seeking help in her quest for justice for her departed father. Over the past six years, Ms. Sarkar has not only launched a recentless fight against the powerful hospital and doctor, she has also joined PBT as an ardent volunteer to help other victims of medical negligence. Ms. Sarkar is now also a member of the PBT Executive Committee and has been deeply involved with helping other victims of medical negligence. The MCI also found Dr. Naik guilty for professional misconduct in 2014 and directed the Orissa Medical Council to cancel his medical license but the state medical council has refused to take any action against the errant doctor until now.
Dr. K.K. Aggarwal, a Delhi-based doctor and long-time supporter of the disgraced ex-MCI chief, Dr. Ketan Desai,has been elected to head the largest lobby for Indian doctors (IMA) for 2016-2017. Dr. Aggarwal has been an inside player and highly controversial figure in Indian medicine as he has been closely associated with tainted Dr. Ketan Desai for a very long time. Even after Desai was arrested for alleged bribery by the CBI and removed from the MCI in 2010, Dr. Aggarwal and a few other old medical friends of Dr. Desai including Dr. Ajay Kumar, Dr. Vinay Aggarwal and Dr. Sudipto Roy, have been deeply involved in defending and promoting Dr. Desai as he remain free on bail awaiting criminal trial to begin in the CBI court in Delhi.
Most recently, PBT lodged a formal complaint with the Supreme Court appointed MCI “Oversight Committee” against these four top IMA leaders including Dr. Aggarwal for helping Dr. Desai to regain the post of World Medical Association (WMA) president as they lied before the world medical body that Dr. Desai has been exonerated from all charges by the Indian authority (CBI) based on which Desai was reinstated as WMA president. Even the MCI Central Vigilance Officer (CVO) upheld PBT’s allegations against the senior doctors and asked MCI president to take appropriate disciplinary action against them. But MCI president has remained absolutely silent and refused to take any disciplinary action against any of these Desai defenders.
Ironically, Dr. Aggarwal, as he has openly boasted on his web page, is also the brother-in-law of Mr. Mukul Rohatgi, Attorney General of India. With this close nexus and direct family ties between the top legal man for the Indian government and the top medical man of IMA, we are anxious whether victims of medical negligence and healthcare corruption will be facing even stiffer challenges in their quest for justice. We are also concerned because there is an obvious appearance of a conflict of interest for proper prosecution of Dr. Desai, the biggest mafia of Indian medicine, by the CBI advocates who are under control of the Attorney General.
PBT has filed a formal complaint today with the Supreme Court appointed MCI “Oversight Committee” headed by Retd. Apex Court Justice Mr. R.M. Lodi, demanding immediate removal and appropriate disciplinary action against several top MCI members including president Dr. Jayashreeben Mehta, Ethics Committee members Dr. Ajay Kumar, Dr. Vinay Aggarwal, Dr. Sudipto Roy and Dr. K.K. Aggarwal, who is also IMA Secretary-General. These high-ranked MCI leaders have been involved with protection and deliberate promotion of disgraced ex-MCI chief, Dr. Ketan Desai, who is still waiting for his criminal trial to begin for alleged bribery and corruption since he was arrested by the CBI in April, 2010 (see PBT’s complaint below).
Using their high official position in the MCI/IMA, these doctor-members went before the World Medical Association (WMA) in 2013 and blatantly lied that all charges against Dr. Desai have been dropped by the Indian authority so he should be reinstated as the WMA president-elect (Dr. Desai was removed from WMA president-elect position following his arrest by the CBI in 2010). After PBT president lodged a complaint with the CBI, the Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO) for MCI, Mr. H.K. Jethi, investigated and held Dr. Kumar/Dr. Aggarwal/Dr. Roy guilty for unethical act and lying before the WMA to help Dr. Desai regain the post of WMA president. The CVO also directed the MCI president to take appropriate disciplinary action against against the three senior MCI members. Almost two years later, MCI president has shoved this matter under the rug and refused to take any action against the “guilty” MCI members. We hope that the Oversight Committee will take prompt action against the corrupt MCI members soon to rebuild public trust in our crumbling medical regulatory system.
In a historic judgment delivered by Supreme Court Justices Mr. Dipak Mishra and Mr. U.U. Lalit that may have far-reaching effect on negligent treatment of critically ill patients in intensive care units (ICUs) across India, Apex Court has directed to implead the Medical Council of India (MCI) as well as the central and state governments and issued notice to the MCI, central government and Health Secretaries of all state governments seeking to explore the guidelines, if any, for proper treatment in the ICUs (see TOI news below).
This case involves horrific death of a young woman, Sunanda Mondal, following a caesarean delivery at the Wellness Nursing Home in Kalyani, 40 km from Kolkata, under the care of Dr. Rita Sinha. The patient was left virtually unattended in ICU for three days before shifting her to a super-speciality hospital in Kolkata in a moribund condition where she eventually died from alleged acute liver failure. The devastated middle-class family came to PBT seeking help in the quest for justice. Guided by the PBT, they lodged a case before the National Consumer Court (NCDRC) seeking a compensation of about Rs. 2 crore. PBT founding-president, Dr. Kunal Saha, personally appeared before the NCDRC during his last trip to India in December, 2015 to argue on behalf of the Mondal family. Although NCDRC summoned the accused doctor but refused to grant any time to Dr. Saha to argue the case further since he was not available during next hearing in April, 2016. It is well-known that since its inception of PBT in 2001, Dr. Saha and his organization have been helping countless victims of medical negligence in their search for justice in the most unselfish fashion without ever charging any fee for their service. In fact, Dr. Saha routinely spends lakhs of rupees from his own pocket to travel to India and argue legal cases on behalf of hapless victims of medical negligence.
Unfortunately, NCDRC dismissed Mondal’s case in May, 2016 with a cryptic order without looking into the merit of the case that the patient was left virtually untreated in the ICU following the caesarean delivery. The NCDRC also made unfortunate aspersations about the intent of Dr. Saha to help the Mondal family. Mondal’s family lodged an appeal with the Supreme Court challenging the NCDRC’s judgment and the Apex Court passed this historic order issuing notice not only to the accused doctor but also to the MCI, central and state governments to probe the status of general treatment in ICUs across India. It is a common knowledge that there is no guidelines or scientific basic protocol for treatment in ICUs by doctors in India. Many ill-equipped nursing homes and hospitals take a ride on the vulnerable and critically ill patients by treating them by careless doctors without any repercussions causing untimely death of countless patients. We hope that specific attention on this issue by the Supreme Court would bring much needed changes in our medical system to save lives of the innocent patients across the country.
It is reported by the media today that Modi Govt. is hatching a new and big plan to overhaul the Medical Council of India (MCI) by stripping their supreme healthcare regulatory authority (as per the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956)and to replace it with a different independent body for better efficiency and to avoid conflict of interests (see below). This would be a hugely positive change the way it has been painted by the government but will it? Or is it another familiar story of putting the old wine in a new bottle?
Since the BJP-led Modi government came to power, there has been little or no evidence that they are eager to cleanse the long-standing rot inside the MCI and entire healthcare delivery system except perhaps the recent introduction of the 3-member Oversight Committee to look into the function of the MCI. But Modi government had nothing to do with the Oversight Committee as it was formed at the specific direction of the Hon’ble Supreme Court – last hope for justice for the millions of hapless patients in India. In fact, like the previous Congress-led government, corruption has continued to thrive in medical education and healthcare delivery system during the tenure of the Modi government. Despite PBT’s repeated appeals and lawsuits (PILs) against the MCI and Health Ministry, disgraced and criminally-indicted ex-MCI president, Dr. Ketan Desai, is still pulling all the strings inside the MCI. Government has remained a silent spectator as Dr. Desai is promoted to the prestigious post of the president-elect for the World Medical Association (WMA) by top medical leaders in the MCI and IMA despite Dr. Desai’s medical registration remains suspended since his arrest by the CBI in 2010. We have seen no real action against any of the corrupt members in the healthcare system by the present government. We hope that the proposed change to dismantle the corrupt MCI is done without any sinister motive by the government only to save the vulnerable patients and not to hoodwink the ordinary people of India.
In a scathing article published this month on different healthcare scandals across the globe, the Washington, DC-based “Center for Global Development” has reported wide-spread corruption with major government healthcare projects in India (see full report below). While the report has underscored scandals and stealing of millions of dollars from important healthcare projects by unscrupulous medical personnel and government officials in different countries, the 61-page article has specifically reviewed the pitiful medical situation in India (see page 14-20 in the report). The World Body has reported that huge amount of money provided by the World Bank was looted by the corrupt officials involved with the HIV/AIDS projects regulated by the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) as well as the Malaria Control and Child Health projects in India. The report has highlighted that how connivance between the high-rank government officials and debauched private healthcare professionals has ripped off enormous amount of money from the benevolent medical projects in India. Defining as “serious indicators of fraud and corruption”, this report by a reputed international body has cited the specific example of serious complaints raised by PBT president and US-based HIV/AIDS specialist, Dr. Kunal Saha, who investigated allegations of fraud with HIV test kits in India as a member of the World Bank investigation team (see page 14-15). PBT has long been fighting against healthcare corruption in India through public interest litigations (PILs) and awareness programs across India.
“Patients’ Day” (Rogi Divas) is celebrated each year on 28th May to enhance public awareness about legal rights of all patients and to bring a message of hope for justice for all victims of “medical negligence”. “Rogi Divas” was initiated to commemorate death of Anuradha Saha who died on this day in 1998 due to gross medical negligence by several senior Kolkata doctors. To celebrate this year’s “Rogi Divas”, PBT will hold an open public forum on 5 pm on 28th May, 2016 (Saturday) at the Calcutta Press Club near Maidan, Kolkata. People and victims of medical negligence across India are also encouraged to observe this day for empowerment of all patients.
PBT also encourages everybody to learn about fundamental rights of all patients most of which are enlisted under MCI “Code of Ethics & Regulations, 2002” (see the MCI Codes below). Many doctors in India are also unaware about the legal and/or ethical responsibilities toward their patients as enumerated in the MCI Codes. This year in this program, PBT has organized a discussion seminar where many registered physicians who have lost their loved ones from alleged “medical negligence” will tell their personal stories as they stand on the victims’ side in search of medical justice. Admission is open to all for attending the Rogi Divas program in Kolkata. For more information, please contact 9143650171, 9831983670 or 9836706952.
The World Medical Association (WMA) is holding their Council meeting this week at Buenos Aires, Argentina. PBT obtained information that disgraced ex-MCI president, Dr. Ketan Desai, joined the WMA meeting along with several top MCI and Indian Medical Association (IMA) leaders including MCI Grievance Committee chairman, Dr. Ajay Kumar, and IMA Secretary General, Dr. K.K. Aggarwal (see picture from Sheraton Hotel in Buenos Aires below with Dr. Desai sitting in the middle as Dr. Aggarwal (with cap) and Dr. Kumar sitting on each side). PBT filed a public interest litigation (PIL) recently after IMA leaders pushed Dr. Desai to become WMA president-elect for 2016 through fraudulent claim that all charges against Dr. Desai have been dropped by the Indian authority.
Dr. Desai is still waiting for criminal trial on serious charges of bribery and corruption after he was caught red-handed by the CBI for taking bribe from a private medical college in 2010 in exchange of granting MCI recognition when he was still the sitting MCI president. Following his arrest by the CBI, Board of Governors (BOG) also indefinitely suspended Dr. Desai’s medical registration after PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, lodged a formal complaint for ethical violation against Dr. Desai. Despite having suspended medical license and facing criminal trial, present MCI and IMA leaders are shamelessly helping Dr. Desai to restore his grossly dented public image and to bring him back to the helm of MCI/IMA. Although Delhi High Court dismissed our PIL last month against the alleged collusion between Desai, MCI/IMA leaders and WMA on the untenable plea that no “public interest” is involved in this case,PBT is all set to challenge this capricious decision before the Supreme Court of India. But obvious questions remain – Can leaders of MCI/IMA openly help a criminally-indicted doctor with suspended medical license (Ketan Desai) to regain the top post in the world medical body? We also wonder who are bearing the cost for these lavish foreign trips by our medical leaders including Dr. Ketan Desai?
The high-power Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health & Family Welfare (PSCHF) issued a scathing report last month on the presence of wide-spread corruption inside the Medical Council of India (MCI) and recommended that “urgent measures” should be taken to include “non-doctor” members in the MCI to prevent the “cronyism and corruption” by the unscrupulous medical members in the council. PBT also sent an urgent memorandum to the Health Ministry for immediate implementation of the recommendation by the PSCHF for reconstruction of the MCI to include “non-doctor” members from the society. Unfortunately, it appears that the Health Ministry is in no mood to bring any change in the MCI as they have remained silent for more than one month and did not even respond to our urgent “memorandum”.
PBT has submitted a final notice today directly to Mr. J.P. Nadda, central health minister, demanding investigation as to why his office did not act even after receiving our previous memorandum and also seeking his immediate intervention to take necessary measures to reconstruct the MCI with inclusion of “non-doctor” members within 2 weeks failing which PBT would be compelled to move the appropriate court of law for the ends of justice (see PBT’s notice to Mr. Nadda below).
It is a common knowledge today that the leaders of the present MCI are well-known cronies of the disgraced ex-MCI president, Dr. Ketan Desai, who is still free on bail waiting for the start of his criminal trial for alleged bribery and corruption since 2010 when he was caught red-handed while taking huge bribe from a private medical college. With the recent declaration by the Supreme Court that a common entrance test (NEET) under the MCI can be used for admission to all medical colleges, there can be no doubt that power and influence of the MCI as well as threats for spread of even more corruption would be significantly higher unless a more honest and transparent MCI is reconstructed by inclusion of “non-doctor” members as strongly recommended by the Parliamentary Committee. Will the Health Minister and Prime Minister stand up for the occasion?
Hearing a review petition earlier this week, a 5-member Supreme Court bench has allowed, pending final judgment, for re-introduction of single National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) under sole control of the Medical Council of India (MCI) for admission in all graduate and post-graduate medical course in India. While PBT principally supports the idea of a common merit-based examination for admission in all medical colleges because it is likely to weed out unmeritorious students from wealthy families to become doctors by bribing leaders of political parties and owners of private medical colleges, but such an nation-wide NEET examination under control of the MCI, presently governed by unscrupulous members elected through a rigged election under the leadership of Dr. Ketan Desai, could open up even bigger doors for healthcare corruption.
In fact, soon after delivery of this interim order by the Apex Court, Indian Medical Association (IMA), which is ruled by Ketan Desai cronies, have already started a massive propaganda to promote Ketan Desai who is still waiting for criminal trial for alleged bribery and corruption since he was caught red-handed in 2010 for taking money from a private medical college while still working as MCI president. The Times of India (TOI) published from Desai’s home town, Ahmedabad, published an interview of Dr. Desai in which he has made boisterous claims that NEET will elevate the standard of medical education etc. (see the TOI report below). It is ironic that the biggest medical mafia in Indian history who is still facing criminal prosecution for bribery and corruption has started giving lecture on merit of doctors and so-called reputed newspapers have also started touting for the tainted doctor without even mentioning that Dr. Desai has been criminally indicted or that he is presently free on bail facing criminal prosecution. Tainted money and corruption Our PIL against the botched MCI election is still pending before the Apex Court as it is listed for final hearing on 4th July, 2016 after the Supreme Court opens following summer vacation.
Lancet, top international medical journal published from United Kingdom, has published a scathing report this week highlighting the deep-rooted corruption and gross inefficiency in the Medical Medical Council (MCI) in view of the recent findings by a multi-party high-powered Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare (see the Lancet report and related news report below). Apart from severe criticism of the way medical education and complaints of medical negligence are handled by the biased doctor-only members of the medical council, the report has underscored the wide-spread corruption that has plagued the MCI for a very long time including the serious case of bribery for which the disgraced ex-MCI president, Dr. Ketan Desai, was arrested by the CBI in 2010. Ironically, the criminal case of bribery against Dr. Desai is still waiting for trial to begin as Dr. Desai roams free on bail. The report has also called the need for inclusion of “non-doctor” members in the medical councils in the manner it is done in most developed countries including USA and UK. PBT president has pressed the need for inclusion of “non-doctor” members in the medical councils in order to bring transparency and fairness in the Ethical Committee while Dr. K.K. Aggarwal, Indian Medical Association (IMA) secretary-general and a staunch defender of Dr. Desai, has claimed that medical councils should be made only by elected members from the medical fraternity.
Under pressure from the recent scathing report about Medical Council of India (MCI) corruption and recommendation to revamp the MCI by a multi-party Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare (PSC), prime minister’s office (PMO) has formed a 4-member panel to look into the serious issues raised in the PSC report and to take necessary measures to restructure MCI (see news report below). Ironically, all four members of the high-power panel are government insiders headed by Arvind Panagariya, supremo of National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog,governmental organization established by the prime minister, Narendra Modi, with the laudatory goal to eradicate corruption and transform India. One of the main recommendations in the PSC report was to bring “transparency” in order to build an honest and efficient healthcare regulatory system like the MCI. By excluding any member from the opposition political parties or from any independent non-governmental organizations like PBT, there is no reason to believe that the new government panel will act in a different manner to promote transparency and honesty to overhaul the healthcare system or stem the deep-rooted “rot” in the MCI.
In view of the PSC report that also recommended for immediate inclusion of “non-doctor” members in the MCI and state medical councils (SMCs), PBT submitted an urgent representation with the central health ministry last month urging them to take imminent steps to include “non-doctor” members in the medical councils as it is also a routine practice in the developed countries. Under the present system of doctor-only medical councils across India, corrupt and influential medical leaders of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) including the disgraced ex-MCI president, Dr. Ketan Desai and his medical cronies, have taken over the MCI and most SMCs as corruption has thrived with the standard of medical education continues to fall and incidence of medical negligence continues to rise as the medical councils function only to shield their errant colleagues without giving any heed to the pain and suffering of the hapless patients.
Almost one month has passed, health ministry has not even sent any response to our demand for inclusion of “non-doctor” members in the medical councils. Two separate public interest litigations (PILs) filed by the PBT against corruption inside the MCI and collusion between Dr. Ketan Desai and present MCI members are pending before the Supreme Court of India. If the health ministry remains silent to our demand for inclusion of “non-doctor” members in the medical councils, PBT would be compelled to move the third PIL before the Apex Court to change the abysmal status of our healthcare delivery system. But we still hope that prime minister would rise to this occasion by taking meaningful and stringent action against the pervasive medical corruption. Making another hog-washing new panel only with inside players in the most partisan and non-transparent fashion cannot build any confidence that MCI would become an honest body to protect the vulnerable patients anytime soon.
The historic criminal case filed under Indian Penal Code (IPC) Section 120b (“criminal conspiracy”) and Section 201 (“giving false information to screen offender”)filed against almost the entire West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) including then state council president, Dr. Ashok Chowdhury, has been fixed for final hearing before the Apex Court on Monday, April 11, 2016 (SC SLP Cri. No. 8024/2013; Ashok Kumar Chowdhury & Ors. vs. Kunal Saha & Anr.). In 2011, a trial court in Kolkata found 17 doctor-members of WBMC prima facie guilty for “criminal conspiracy” while acquitting Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee, a senior physician who was found guilty by the Supreme Court in 2009 for medical negligence causing death of Anuradha Saha, wife of PBT president Dr. Kunal Saha. However, Medical Council of India (MCI) later overturned the WBMC’s decision by holding Dr. Mukherjee (and two other senior doctors who have since died) guilty for medical negligence and directed to cancel his medical registration for a period of three months.
The WBMC, headed by then council president Dr. Ashok Chowdhury, found absolutely no fault with the treatment of Dr. Mukherjee in a closed-door meeting in 2002. While 17 doctor-members gave a clean chit to Dr. Mukherjee, only 2 members found the doctor guilty. The WBMC also refused to disclose any information about their closed-door investigation process even after Dr. Saha sought the information under the RTI Act, 2005. However, after the CPM-led government (where all doctor-members belonged) was toppled in West Bengal in 2011, information about the investigation of the complaint against Dr. Mukherjee was released by the newly formed WBMC where all members were backed by the anti-CPM Trinomial Congress party. Based on the evidence that nearly showed that the WBMC had conducted a sham investigation only to shield the accused doctor, Dr. Saha filed a criminal case under IPC Sections 120b and 201 against the 17 doctors who voted to exonerate Dr. Mukherjee.
After the trial court in Kolkata took cognizance of the criminal complaint against the 17 doctor-members of WBMC and issued warrants against them, the accused WBMC doctors moved Calcutta High Court to quash the complaint. The Calcutta High Court also dismissed the quashing petition in 2013 and directed the charged doctors to stand for trial, the criminally-indicted doctors moved the Supreme Court challenging the Calcutta High Court decision. After another long delay for more than two years, this historic case will now be decided by the Apex Court next month. It is a common knowledge that medical councils across India have turned into a den of corruption that primarily function to shield the negligent doctors without caring for the lives of the innocent victims of “medical negligence”. There can be no dispute that the unprecedented criminal case against the 17 doctor-members of WBMC may have enormous impact on the deep-rooted corruption inside the MCI and state medical councils.
In a 126-page long investigative report presented before the Rajya Sabha this week, multi-party Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare (PSCHF) has found wide-spread corruption inside the Medical Council of India (MCI) and State Medical Councils (SMCs) that has crippled the entire medical education and healthcare delivery system in India. The scathing PSCHF report has made several recommendations to improve the present healthcare situation. The Committee has strongly recommended that there is an urgent need for inclusion of “non-doctor” members from the society to be part of the MCI and SMCs. The Committee has found that doctor-only medical council members have shown biased attitude and failed to take necessary disciplinary action against their errant medical colleagues.
The Committee has also underscored that medical councils in most developed countries including UK, Australia and USA have significant number of members from the non-doctor members of the society to assure that medical councils must fact in an honest and transparent manner. PBT has long been fighting for inclusion of non-doctor members in the medical council. In view of the PSCHF report, PBT president has sent an urgent memorandum to the health ministry today urging them to take immediate steps to reconstitute the medical councils with “non-doctor” members failing which PBT will bring this to the appropriate legal forum for the ends of justice (see PBT’s memorandum below).
In a historic judgment delivered yesterday, the West Bengal Consumer Commission has awarded Rs. 25.5 lakh (including litigation cost of Rs. 50 thousand) to the widow of a government worker who died due to a botched brain surgery and follow up treatment by Dr. Alok Kumar Khan, senior neurosurgeon and ex-head of Neurosurgery at R.G. Kar Medical College & Hospital, a government medical college in Kolkata. This case was fought by PBT after the victim’s widow with two young children came to PBT seeking help as the family was devastated following the unexpected death of her husband. In fact, PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, personally appeared and argued the case before the State Commission last December coming all the way from his permanent residence in USA.
Another unique aspect of this case is that the guilty physician, Dr. Khan, chose not to appear before the consumer court as he refused to accept repeated notices from the court as the case had to be decided ex perte by the State Commission. The doctor and nursing home (owned by the doctor) where the botched surgery took place in 2009 also refused to provide the medical records to the victim’s family in candid violation of law. Ironically, the West Bengal Medical Council as well as the State Health Department also remained as silent spectator despite repeated appeals for justice from the victim’s family. The court has ordered that Dr. Khan must give the compensation of Rs. 25.5 lakh to the victim’s family within 60 days failing which an interest at the rate of 9% will be added to the award (see the full judgment below). PBT has been helping victims across India to find justice and to bring an end to the rampant incidence of medical negligence and healthcare corruption.
The division bench of Delhi High Court presided by chief justice, G. Rohini, adjourned the public interest litigation (PIL) brought by PBT against the deliberate and fraudulent attempt by top leaders of the IMA and Medical Council of India (MCI) to reinstate disgraced ex-MCI president, Dr. Ketan Desai, to the prestigious post of World Medical Association (WMA) president starting October, 2016. The HC heard arguments from all parties on 9th October, 2015 including both the Ministry of Health and MCI, both of whom took the side of Dr. Desai and pleaded to dismiss the PIL on ground of “maintainability”). The HC reserved final order on the question of “maintainability” to be delivered on 2nd November, 2015. However, on 2nd November, the court adjourned the order for 6th January, 2016 but when the day came, the court again adjourned the matter to 8th February, 2016. And today (8th February, 2016), the court once again simply adjourned the delivery of order to 3rd March, 2016.
The principal prayer in this historic PIL is to direct the Govt. of India and MCI for taking necessary steps to stop Dr. Desai from becoming WMA president in October because it was allegedly planned through fraudulent claim by high-rank MCI and IMA members that all charges against Dr. Desai (for allegedly taking bribes from private medical college) have been dropped by the Indian authority. We are concerned that this PIL may become absolutely infructuous if this matter is delayed further because Dr. Desai would assume the top post in the world medical body despite facing serious criminal charges and despite having his medical registration still suspended by the MCI.
Large number of doctors under Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) have joined a strike to settle their personal scores with the government bringing endless pain and suffering for countless patients, mostly with poor socio-economic condition as they are unable to attend pricy private hospitals. Doctors have demanded for regular salary and other benefits from the government. While PBT has no qualm with legitimate demands from the government by members of the medical fraternity, doctors should not hold defenseless patients ransom by disrupting hospital services through doctors’ strike.
PBT moved the Apex Court against “doctors’ strike” through a PIL in 2006 (SC W.P. No. 316/2006). The Apex Court agreed with the view that strike by doctors is of great public importance and while disposing the PIL in 2012, Supreme Court directed that for any doctors’ strike in the future, Health Ministry should be approached for taking appropriate disciplinary action against the striking doctors and in case the Health Ministry does not respond, Apex Court has also given “liberty” to approach the court of law. The Delhi Medical Council also issued an Order in 2010 (after PBT lodged a complaint against doctors’ strike at Safdarjung Hospital) categorically holding that doctors have no right to join strike as it also violates the provisions of MCI Code of Ethics & Regulations, 2002.
PBT has lodged a formal complaint, as directed by the Supreme Court, with the Delhi Govt. Health Minister, Mr. Satyendar Jain, asking him to take immediate action against the striking doctors to bring an end to the endless miseries for the hapless patients. If there is no response from the Delhi Health Minister within a period of 10 days, PBT will take necessary legal action as suggested by the Apex Court (see PBT’s complaint below).
An investigative report published this week by NDTV has found continued wide-spread corruption with inspection of medical colleges by the present MCI which is still under control of disgraced ex-MCI president, Dr. Ketan Desai (see the report below). PBT has long been alleging that despite his arrest by the CBI for accepting huge bribe from a private medical college in 2010, Dr. Desai, who is still waiting for his criminal trial to begin, has managed to rule the entire MCI after he was able to put many of his long-known cronies in top positions in the MCI. In fact, Supreme Court has already issued notice against MCI and Dr. Ketan Desai in a historic PIL filed by PBT challenging the botched MCI election that helped to elect all Desai cronies at the helm of the MCI. This PIL is now waiting for final disposal at the Apex Court. In another PIL filed by the PBT which is pending for “order” on 8th February, 2016 by the Delhi High Court, serious allegations against top MCI and IMA members have been raised by the PBT for deliberately making false claim in support of Dr. Desai to make him as World Medical Association (WMA) president-elect in 2016. The findings of NDTV investigation that Dr. Desai is still controlling MCI and medical education system in India provide strong evidence in support of PBT’s contentions in both the pending PILs.
In the public interest litigation (PIL) filed by PBT alleging that disgraced ex-MCI chief, Dr. Ketan Desai, had rigged the last MCI election held in December, 2013 to put his hand-picked cronies at the helm of the MCI, central health ministry and MCI have filed their affidavits in the Supreme Court in which both have opposed the writ petition and defended Dr. Desai. This important PIL is expected to come for final argument in the next few weeks.
One of the principle allegations raised by the PBT is that Dr. Desai hosted a lavish dinner party at the IMA house in Delhi just the night before the election day where a printed list was circulated among all the newly elected MCI members in which specific names of doctors who would be elected to the top posts in the next day’s MCI election was categorically listed. Next day each of those candidates selected by Dr. Desai was elected, all without any contest, to their respective positions as noted in the list circulated at the dinner party the night before. While denying any foul play in the MCI election, both government and MCI have not been able to deny about the development allegedly took place at dinner party hosted by Dr. Desai as claimed by the PBT. Although we will have to wait for the final verdict from the Apex Court to uncover the entire truth, we wonder why the central government has decided to defend a grossly tainted man like Dr. Ketan Desai who is free on bail and waiting for criminal trial to face serious charges of bribery and corruption.
Traveling across different cities in India to promote PBT, Dr. Kunal Saha, PBT president, will hold an open press presentation at the Roshanara Hall at Taj Palace Hotel in New Delhi at 1 pm on Wednesday (January 13, 2016). Dr. Saha’s talk entitled, “Cancer of Indian Healthcare and Medical Education System: Ketan Desai Factor”, will focus on PBT’s recent progress in unraveling different mode of corruption inside the Medical Council of India (MCI) and Indian Medical Association (IMA). India’s medical education system is complete turmoil under the de facto leadership of disgraced ex-MCI chief, Dr. Ketan Desai whose cronies are still sitting on top of the MCI and IMA. The latest shocking development is Dr. Desai’s reinstatement as the World Medical Association (WMA) president at the behest of the top IMA/MCI leaders who have lied before the world medical body that all criminal charges against Dr. Desai have been dropped. PBT has already filed several writ petitions (PILs) against the corruption inside MCI and IMA. These legal and other developments will be presented at the press meet tomorrow.
Although Delhi HC division bench headed by the Chief Justice called on Jan 6, 2016 the PIL filed by PBT (W.P. No. 9597/2015; People for Better Treatment vs. MCI &Ors.), which was listed for ORDER, the court simply adjourned the matter to 8th February, 2016 without passing any order. The principal prayer in this PIL has been to direct MCI and Union of India to take appropriate steps to prevent disgraced ex-MCI president, Dr. Ketan Desai, from assuming the prestigious post of the president of World Medical Association (WMA) which he is expected to take over in October, 2016. The primary allegations in this case involve top IMA and MCI officials deliberately provided false and fabricated information to the WMA in order to make Dr. Desai president-elect of this international world medical body in order to rebuild Dr. Desai’s badly tainted public image and to bring him back at the helm of Indian healthcare.
This PIL was strenuously argued on 9th October, 2015 by senior advocate, Mr. M.N.Krishnaani, on behalf of PBT, after Govt. of India, MCI and IMA all raised the issue of “maintainability” in support of Dr. Desai as the court reserved the case for ORDER to be delivered on 2nd November, 2015. When 2nd November came, the PIL was further adjourned to 6th January, 2016 without any further hearing and yesterday (Jan 6), this important matter was again adjourned to 8th February, 2016.
PBT is particularly concerned with the present developments with this PIL due to the fact that only few months are left before the disgraced Dr. Desai, still with a suspended medical registration, would be put to the coveted post of WMA president unless this writ petition is allowed and MCI and Govt. of India take necessary measures to stop Dr. Desai. If time runs out and Delhi HC fails to make any decision before Dr. Desai becomes WMA president in October, the entire PIL would become totally infructuous. That would be a true travesty of justice for the entire nation and would send a wrong message to the hapless patients of India.
In a large gathering of victims of medical negligence and ordinary people from all spectrum of life, PBT celebrated its 14th Anniversay yesterday (Dec. 30) at Rotary Sadan in Kolkata (see news below). PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, called on all honest doctors to step forward and take away the regulatory authority from the hands of the unscrupulous members of the medical community headed by the disgraced ex-MCI president, Dr. Ketan Desai and his cronies who are still occupying top positions in the MCI and IMA. PBT president also criticized the government for keeping blind eyes to the ongoing corruption involving medical education and practice of medicine. Dr. Saha also vouched that PBT will continue to fight medical negligence and healthcare corruption through new PILs in the Supreme Court and High Courts. Dr. Saha also severely criticized the Mamata Banerjee government for their miserable failure to take action against negligent doctors. As announced recently, PBT has opened a new and vastly improved service center and head office at a prime location in Kolkata (Address: Commercial Point (Room G/4D/1), 79 Lenin Sarani, Kolkata 700013)to help victims of medical negligence.
On our 14th anniversary on 30th December to be celebrated at the Rotary Sadan in Kolkata, PBT is also going to open a permanent and new head office in Kolkata. The new address for PBT is:
People for Better Treatment (PBT)
79, Lenin Sarani
Commercial Point (Ground Floor)
Room No. G/4D1
To celebrate this auspicious occasion, PBT president Dr. Kunal Saha would also come to Kolkata from his permanent place of residence in USA. During his upcoming trip to India, Dr. Saha would also participate in several legal proceedings including cases on behalf of the alleged victims of medical negligence that are pending before different consumer courts in India. Although a medical doctor, Dr. Saha has unparalleled wisdom and experience in arguing before the court in cases involving “medical negligence”. As we reported earlier, Dr. Saha has already appeared in court and won cases on behalf of victims of “medical negligence” on several occasions. Of course, Dr. Saha and PBT provide this service to help medical victims for free only for the sake of humanity although we urge every able citizen to come and join hands with us in this enormous battle against the corrupt and negligent doctors and hospitals in India.
People are encouraged to contact PBT at 9831983670/9038083670/9143650171/9836706952 to join on this major anniversary day on 30th December, 2015 or if you want to meet and/or consult Dr. Saha for litigation or other purposes. You can also write to Dr. Saha directly at his email at ANKU1@EARTHLINK.NET or through PBT’s email at PBTINDIA2012@GMAIL.COM.
Although many eyebrows were raised but there was no hide and sick when disgraced ex-MCI president, Dr. Ketan Desai, appeared at the gala celebration of the marriage of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s daughter last week (see news below). Of course, the marriage party was also attended by other BJP leaders and top Bollywood stars. Last year, it was a lavish party to celebrate the marriage of Desai’s daughter in Ahmedabad where most BJP leaders including the party president, Mr. Amit Shah and several sitting central ministers joined the party.
There is no secret anymore about the cozy relationship between the BJP-led central government leaders and corrupt Dr. Desai who is still facing criminal trial for alleged bribery and corruption for which he was caught red-handed by the CBI in 2010 when Desai was still the MCI president. While the CBI case against Dr. Desai is still going on in the court, the top bosses of the government are shamelessly roaming in the public with the accused Dr. Desai. Affidavits filed in the Apex Court in another related ongoing case showed that Dr. Desai even secretly met with the CBI Director while the case against him was still being investigate. As Supreme Court has said on many occasions that justice should not only be done but it must also appear to be done – Is there any hope to see Dr. Desai ever brought to justice? And what about our PM who swept to power on the band-wagon of “anti-corruption”?
While numerous patients are falling victims to medical negligence at the hands of qualified medical practitioners everyday, countless other patients are paying a heavy toll at the hands of unregistered and untrained “quacks” across India. Quackery is a menace especially for the poor and uninformed patients in the rural areas. There is absolutely no accountability for the thousands of unqualified “quacks” who are bringing endless pain and suffering for the innocent patients through unscientific and often dangerous treatment. In order to send a strong signal to all the unscrupulous “quacks”, PBT lodged a criminal complaint against one Mr. Subhendhu Mallick, a self-claimed “surgeon” who has a thriving medical practice in Serampore, about 15 km from Kolkata (see news below). Practicing medicine without proper medical education and a valid registration from the medical council is a criminal offense but neither the local IMA nor the state government showed any interest to go after the reckless “quacks”. Most shockingly, the quack, Mr. Mallick, was hired by major nursing homes owned by bona fide doctors. Despite PBT president directly urging the Superintendent of Police of the concerned area, Mr. P. Tripathi, to arrest the “quack” and deliver speedy justice to protect the innocent citizens, police has not yet arrested the “quack”. It is reported that the accused “quack” has connection with the local leaders of the ruling Trinomool party. PBT will move the higher court if the Serampore police remains idle and allow Mr. Mallick to practice medicine.
IMA and its top leaders have been pushing to promote corrupt ex-MCI chief, Dr. Ketan Desai,in the recent years. While Dr. Desai is still waiting for criminal trial for his alleged bribery and corruption back in 2010 (when he was caught red-handed for taking bribe from a private medical college), IMA leaders recently made a blatantly false representation before the World Medical Association (WMA) that all charges against Dr. Desai have been dropped by the Indian authority in order to make Desai WMA president-elect. A PIL filed by PBT challenging the dubious selection of Dr. Desai to become WMA president is presently pending before the Delhi High Court. Even the Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO) found senior IMA and MCI member, Dr. Ajay Kumar, guilty for professional conduct for helping Dr. Desai to become WMA president-elect and recommended MCI to take disciplinary action against Dr. Kumar and two other MCI members (Dr. Vinay Aggarwal and Dr. Sudipto Roy) although MCI has remained in a deep slumber.
Another brazen brazen attempt by the IMA to save Dr. Desai was exposed last week when in response to an RTI application, PBT was informed by the MCI that the case filed by PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, against Dr. Desai is still pending before the MCI Ethics Committee. Following Dr. Desai’s arrest by the CBI for alleged bribery and corruption, Dr. Saha lodged a formal complaint with the MCI seeking exemplary disciplinary action against him. The MCI Board of Governors (BOG) suspended Dr. Desai’s license to practice for an “indefinite” period pending full investigation vide an order dated 9th October, 2010. Recently, IMA and its general-secretary Dr. K.K. Aggarwal started to make a claim that Dr. Desai’s license has been restored since MCI “revoked” its earlier decision in December, 2013 and dismissed the complaint lodged by Dr. Saha.
The RTI response from MCI, received last week by PBT, has categorically admitted that the complaint lodged by Dr. Saha is still pending before the Ethics Committee. Obviously, under this situation, Dr. Desai’s license to practice medicine is still suspended or it would be improper and illegal for Dr. Desai (or anyone else on behalf of him)to represent himself as a bona fide doctor. How a doctor whose license remains suspended by the MCI can lead world medical body (WMA)? Why IMA leaders are repeatedly lying and distorting truth only to shield Dr. Ketan Desai, the biggest medical mafia in Indian medicine?
In an open debate before a public forum aired in NDTV today (Dec. 6), top leader of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and several private hospital as well as diagnostic center owners argued that government must impose a “cap” or limit on the maximum amount of compensation that the negligent doctor/hospital may have to pay for causing wrongful death of a patient. Although the doctor-leaders did not explicitly say what would be the amount of this “cap”, IMA has been claiming for a long time that no hospital or doctor should pay more than Rs. 10 lakh for death of a patient under any condition. Dr. K.K Aggarwal, IMA Secretary-general and a long-time close associate of disgraced ex-MCI president Dr. Ketan Desai, attempted to make a laughable argument that IMA is demanding for a “cap” in medical negligence cases not to protect the doctors/hospitals but only for the sake of the “poor” patients of India. The doctor-leaders also asserted that Judges in the consumer courts or even in the Supreme Court are not equipped to adjudicate appropriate compensation in “medical negligence” cases because Judges are not able to understand the complex science of medicine. However, PBT president Dr. Kunal Saha also participated in this discussion through the Internet from his residence in USA and strongly argued that the idea to put a “cap” for compensation in medical negligence cases is totally misguided. Dr. Saha also argued that despite medical rules and regulations, private hospitals and doctors charge exorbitantly and bankrupt many patients and their families, often through bogus testing and medical procedure. He demanded that government should assure strict accountability for all doctors and hospitals if there is any hope to end the rampant incidence of medical practice in India. Mr. Sishir Chand, PBT coordinator in Delhi (Tel: 9810919282) also attended this public forum. The entire NDTV program may be viewed at the following link:
The recent “deal” between the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and central health ministry that has already agreed to consider 5 specific demands made by India’s largest medical lobby (IMA) to bring new laws or amendments in the existing laws can be described only in one way that Indian doctors now want their virtual “untouchable” status to be formally recognized by the law. One of major demands made by our healers’ organization (IMA) is that there must be a “cap” or maximum limit on the compensation awarded in medical negligence cases.
We need to think what would happen in the real world if such a law is allowed by the government. Even on the rare occasion when the family of a victim of medical negligence is able to establish that their loved one died solely due to the reckless treatment by the doctor/hospital, they may be able to get a compensation of maximum five or ten lakh rupees as the IMA has claimed. It is a common knowledge today that treatment in a private hospital for few days or weeks even for an ordinary illness may easily cost the patient and his/her family lakhs of rupees as hospital costs and doctors’ fees. Top doctors and hospitals can make a profit of five or ten lakh rupees from each patient in few days or weeks. If the new law to impose a “cap”, as demanded by the IMA, is approved by the government, there would hardly be any reason for any victim to approach the consumer court (under the Consumer Protection Act) to seek damages against the errant doctor/hospital because the long-drawn legal fight may cost the victim more than he can eventually recover from the court – what a travesty of justice that would be for our society. Perhaps more important, such a scenario would be a strong stimulant for all doctors to be even less careful during treatment of their patients. In the end, it would result in more unfortunate death of innocent patients from “medical negligence” across India.
The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has declared victory in bringing new amendments in several long-standing and patients-protective laws including the Consumer Protection Act (CPA), Clinical Establishment Act (CEA), PCPNDT Act (for preventing female fetuses) and even the Indian Penal Code (IPC). PBT has obtained an email communication from Dr. K.K. Aggarwal, IMA General Secretary and a close ally of disgraced Dr. Ketan Desai, which categorically shows that top IMA leaders met with the Union Health Minister, Mr. J.P. Nadda, on 10th November, 2015 when health minister agreed to act on 5 specific IMA’s demands for bringing changes in the CPA, CEA, PCPNDT and IPC for better protection of doctors (see email communication below between Dr. Aggarwal and other doctors). The IMA has also claimed that Mr. Nadda has already formed a high-power “Committee” to see how legal changes as demanded by the IMA can be implemented soon. Ironically, apart from high-rank government officials from different departments, this “Committee” also has doctor-members from IMA and MCI but nobody to represent the hapless patients of India.
The IMA leaders have also threatened that unless the “Committee” gives their report within 6 weeks and government initiates the process of necessary amendments of law, all doctors will join cease work (“Satyagraha”). The 5 IMA demands include implementation of a “cap” or maximum limit (5 to 10 lakh rupees) of financial compensation that can be awarded by the consumer courts for negligent death of a patient. The IMA has also sought amendments in the PCPNDT Act in order to loosen the power of the criminal law against the unscrupulous doctors who are involved with unlawful sex diagnosis of a pregnant woman only for the purpose of aborting female fetuses. On the other hand, IMA has also demanded that changes in the IPC should also be implemented so that in case any negligent doctor/hospital is challenged or presumed to be threatened by the victim of “medical negligence” or victim’s friends/families, they should be jailed for long time and charged with non-bailable offense. While PBT has always condemned any physical violence against doctors/hospitals because two wrongs cannot never be a right, IMA and medical community must be able to appreciate the underlying reason why ordinary law-abiding citizens sometime resort to violence after losing their loved ones in front of their eyes as a result of gross medical negligence. Lack of any hope of finding justice against the errant doctors by the corrupt and biased medical council is the root cause of most attacks on doctors. PBT has raised strong objection in a letter sent to the health minister by PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha (see below). PBT has also brought this shocking anti-patients development to the attention of the chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health & Family Welfare (see below).
On October 9, 2015, Delhi High Court division bench headed by the chief justice announced that an order will be passed on November 2, 2015 as to whether the writ petition (PIL) filed by PBT against the wrongful act by several MCI and IMA leaders to promote disgraced ex-MCI chief, Dr. Ketan Desai, as the WMA president in order to restore his tainted public image and to reinstate him at the helm of Indian medicine. But on November 2 when this matter came up for hearing, division bench abruptly declared that the case is adjourned till January 6, 2016. This PIL was initially filed before the Supreme Court but hearing Mr. M.N. Krishnamani, senior advocate representing PBT, the Apex Court directed that the remedy sought by PBT should be prayed before the appropriate high court. It is noteworthy that the primary allegation in this PIL is against the top MCI/IMA leaders including Dr. Ajay Kumar, present chairman of MCI “Grievance Committee”, who went before WMA and lied that all cases against Dr. Desai have been dropped by the Indian authority based on which Desai was reinstated as the WMA president-elect for 2016.
While dismissing a number of writ petitions filed by several doctors whose licenses were suspended by the Medical Council of India (MCI) for deliberate misrepresentation and fraud, Division bench of Mumbai High Court has categorically held that MCI has absolute power under the provisions of “Code of Ethics & Regulations, 2002” to take disciplinary action and cancel or suspend medical registrations of doctors found guilty for medical negligence or ethical violation (see the full HC judgment below). Dr. Bapat Vishnuprasad Madhusudan, Dr. Asmita Desmukh and Dr. Sashikant Patel, all of whom were registered with the Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC), were found prima facie guilty and charged by the CBI for providing fake evidence as attending professor in favor of Melmaruvathur Adiparasakthi Institute Medical Sciences only to obtain MCI recognition of this private medical college in Tamil Nadu. After CBI brought this to the attention of MCI, the doctors were found guilty for ethical violation and their licenses were suspended for a period between 1 and 5 years. But since these doctors were registered with MMC, the guilty doctors moved Mumbai High Court claiming that MCI has no authority to take action against them. After a long contested legal battle for 3 years, Mumbai High Court passed this historic judgment clearly stating that MCI has full authority to take disciplinary action against the errant doctors. It is a routine practice by most state medical councils (SMCs) not to cancel or suspend licenses of doctors who are found guilty by the MCI on the plea that MCI has no authority to take action against doctors who are registered by the state medical council. This judgment unequivocally has held that MCI can take disciplinary action against wayward doctors based on a complaint or after an appeal filed by the aggrieved patients/victims whose complaints are dismissed by the state medical council. PBT welcomes this historic judgment as it will pave the way for appropriate disciplinary action against the delinquent doctors.
In what appears to be one of the most controversial decisions to take a step backward in the fight against “medical corruption”, World Medical Association (WMA), largest international medical group has defended selection of Dr. Ketan Desai, perhaps the most notorious physician and biggest medical mafia, to become the next WMA president. This shocking news was delivered during the WMA meeting in Moscow this week.
After spending almost 7 months in jail, Dr. Desai is presently free on bail facing criminal trial in Delhi for his role in the well-know case of bribery and corruption since he was caught red-handed by the CBI in 2010 for taking huge bribe allegedly in exchange of granting MCI recognition to a private medical college while he was still the sitting MCI president. Desai’s license to practice medicine and his right to be a member of any medical council/group were also suspended for indefinite period by MCI in 2010 after PBT lodged a formal complaint for professional misconduct against Dr. Desai. MCI’s decision to suspend Dr. Desai’s medical registration still remains operative since no further order has been passed by the MCI overturning the previous order of 2010. This deplorable situation in Indian medicine made a huge public uproar in India and across the world.
Even more shockingly, although Dr. Desai was nominated as WMA president-elect in 2009 but following his arrest by the CBI and suspension of his license, WMA cancelled Desai’s inauguration to become WMA president after MCI urged the world medical body that a doctor who is found prima facie guilty for corruption and professional misconduct should not be made president of WMA. Although Desai’s overall situation has remained the same as he still awaits start of the criminal trial, WMA has taken a complete U-turn and found no problem to reinstate Dr. Desai to be their next president. So, the most corrupt and unethical doctor from India who is without a license to practice medicine and facing criminal trial for bribery will be the president of WMA whose primary goal is to spread ethical practice of medicine across the globe. PBT is still fighting to stop Dr. Desai to become the WMA president and to bring an end to this colossal global medical atrocity that would undoubtedly send a demoralizing message to the ordinary people and honest doctors around the world.
A “Legal Notice” was sent today to the MCI president, Dr. Jayshreeben Mehta, by the lawyer of PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, demanding that the MCI president must inform the present status of medical registration (license to practice) by disgraced ex-MCI president, Dr. Ketan Desai (see the “Legal Notice” below). Dr. Desai’s license to practice medicine and to participate in any medical council or conference was suspended “indefinitely” by the MCI vide an Order dated 9th October, 2010 in response to a complaint/appeal filed by Dr. Saha following Dr. Desai’s arrest by the CBI allegedly for taking bribe from a private medical college.
Since the complainant/appeal against Dr. Desai is still pending in MCI as no hearing in this matter has taken place for the past more than three years, Dr. Desai should still be barred from practicing medicine and his right to participate as a doctor in any medical council or conference should also remain suspended until final decision of the complaint/appeal against him is made by the MCI, as clearly stated in the MCI Order of 9th October, 2010. However, PBT recently obtained a document from Dr. K.K. Aggarwal, General Secretary of Indian Medical Association (IMA) and a staunch supporter of Dr. Desai, in which it has been claimed that soon after the present MCI was established and Dr. Mehta (a long-term close associate of Dr. Desai from Gujarat) was chosen as MCI president through a botched election in December 2013 (against which a separate PIL filed by PBT is pending in SC), MCI decided to reinstate Dr. Desai’s medical registration. If this claim made by Dr. Aggarwal is true, it is obvious that the MCI has already dismissed the complaint/appeal against Dr. Desai without holding any hearing to judge the merit of the allegations lodged by Dr. Saha. Repeated letters to the MCI over the past two years to know the status of the complaint/appeal against Dr. Desai have also fallen in deaf ears.
Dr. Saha’s advocate has issued the “Legal Notice” today with specific questions giving 7 days’ time to the MCI president to come clean and to clarify whether the complaint/appeal against Dr. Desai was dismissed by the MCI, as claimed by IMA, to allow Dr. Desai to practice medicine and granting him right to participate in medical council/conference which was revoked by MCI vide their Order dated 9th October, 2010. The “Legal Notice” has also raised other related questions including whether MCI has taken any disciplinary action against three MCI Ethics Committee members (Dr. Ajay Kumar, Dr. Vinay Aggarwal and Dr. Sudipto Roy) as recommended by the Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO), Mr. H.K. Jethi, for their sinister and deliberate misrepresentation to promote Dr. Desai for the prestigious post of the president of World Medical Association (WMA). Dr. Saha has informed that he will bring MCI and the unscrupulous medical leaders to the court if the MCI president refuses to respond to the “Legal Notice”.
In an interview given to Times of India (TOI), disgraced ex-MCI president, Dr. Ketan Desai, has made a shocking claim that “Racism”, “Western lobby” and “bias against non-Whites” are working to stop him from being the coveted post of the World Medical Association (WMA) president (see Dr. Desai’s interview below). Without providing a single name of any Western individual/group, except the president of PBT Dr. Kunal Saha, and without citing a single reason as to why any “Western lobby” would attempt to prevent him from becoming WMA president, Dr. Desai has made a desperate attempt to generate sympathy through baseless assertion of “racism” and “bias” by the West.
In this interview, Dr. Desai has also claimed that during the CBI raid of his house on 22nd April, 2010 (following his arrest by the CBI), only Rs. 53,640/- (fifty-three thousand six hundred forty rupees) was recovered from his house to suggest that he had very little wealth. But this is in sharp contrast to the reality which is clearly recorded in the Order dated 5th October, 2010 passed by the CBI Court (while granting bail to Dr. Desai). According to the said Order by the court, CBI actually recovered from Dr. Desai’s house during the raid on 22nd April, 2010 to the tune of Rs. 24,16,92,472/- (twenty-four crore sixteen lakh ninety-two thousand four hundred and seventy rupees) .
A new PIL was filed recently by PBT against Dr. Desai’s unlawful and immoral appointment as the WMA president as well as the ongoing corruption inside the MCI. This PIL was heard last week by the Delhi High Court and the court has reserved Order for November 2, 2015. Ironically, in his interview with TOI, Dr. Desai has also admitted that the main CBI case against him for bribery is still pending in Delhi CBI Court although the proceedings are currently stayed by the Supreme Court. Thus, it is now an admitted position by Dr. Desai himself that all criminal charges against him have not been dropped by the Indian authority as was claimed by senior leaders from Indian Medical Association (IMA) before the world medical body as the IMA demanded that Dr. Desai should be reinstated as WMA president. Unfortunately, based on this fraudulent claim by the IMA leaders, WMA has already decided to reinstate Dr. Desai as the president-elect for 2016. Apart from moving the court through PIL, PBT has also sent an urgent appeal to the WMA for removing Dr. Desai from the post of WMA president-elect as this would send a very wrong signal to the ordinary people and all honest members of the medical community.
The public interest litigation (PIL) filed by PBT against the sinister selection of disgraced ex-MCI president, Dr. Ketan Desai, to head the World Medical Association (WMA) was heard yesterday by the division bench of Delhi High Court (headed by Chief Justice) as the court reserved its order on the question of “maintainability” which was raised by the lawyers representing the MCI, Govt. of India and Indian Medical Association (IMA) as the court has reserved order for November 2, 2015 (see the news below). In this historic PIL, PBT has challenged Dr. Desai’s promotion as the WMA president-elect which was orchestrated by senior members of MCI/IMA who had made the false claim before the world medical body that all charges of corruption against Dr. Desai have been dropped by the Indian authority. The fact remains that Dr. Desai has been criminally indicted and still waiting for criminal trial following his arrest by the CBI in 2010 when he was caught red-handed for taking Rs. 2 crore bribe allegedly for granting MCI recognition to a private medical college.
It is surprising that not only the MCI and IMA, even the Govt. of India (health ministry) argued to defend Dr. Desai as they urged the court to dismiss PBT’s writ petition on the ground of “maintainability”. In fact, Additional Solicitor General, Mr. Sanjay Jain, appeared and took the side of Dr. Desai along with other senior advocates representing MCI and IMA. On the other hand, Sr. Advocate Mr. M.N. Krishnamani appeared on behalf of PBT and argued that apart from removal of Dr. Desai from the post of WMA president-elect, the PIL has also sought independent investigation of corruption inside MCI and strict disciplinary action against senior MCI member, Dr. Ajay Kumar, who was found guilty for “unethical conduct” by the Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO) for helping Dr. Desai to become WMA president-elect and thus, this writ petition cannot be dismissed on the ground of “maintainability”. While we will wait with bated breath for the final order to be delivered by the Delhi High Court on 2nd November, an obvious question remains as to why the central government took the side of corrupt Dr. Ketan Desai instead of looking for the interest of ordinary citizens who have been paying a heavy price for the abysmal condition of medical education and healthcare system that have been plundered for decades by Dr. Desai and his cronies?
The role of IMA in our fight against medical corruption in India also becomes apparent as following the hearing of this important PIL yesterday, IMA has issued a “press release” (available at http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/indian-medical-association-refutes-allegations-being-targeted-towards-president-elect-of-the-world-medical-association—dr-ketan-desai-531670081.html) strongly defending Dr. Desai and criticizing the allegations raised against Dr. Desai a relevant portion of which is reproduced below:
“Padma Shri Awardees – Dr. A Marthanda Pillai, National President and Dr. K K Aggarwal, Honorary Secretary General, IMA, in a joint statement said, “Actions speak louder than words and the pivotal role played by Dr. Desai in streamlining the medical profession cannot be undermined by a few false accusations. The truth must come to the forefront and mere politics must not deter him from taking his rightful place as the President of the World Medical Association.”
A three-judge bench of Kolkata District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum passed a historic judgment holding the Apollo Gleneagles Hospital in Kolkata and two of their doctors, Dr. Asoke Sengupta (Surgeon) and Dr. Srijita Ghosh Sen (Radiologist) guilty for causing mental agony and harassment to a patient through unethical and negligent therapy. This case was fought by PBT on behalf of the hapless victim from a remote village in West Bengal as PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, personally appeared before the court (during his last trip to India) and argued the case against the powerful Apollo Gleneagles Hospital. The Consumer Court made numerous scathing observations in regard to the incompetent and unethical doctors as well as the unfair trade practice that the Apollo hospital has been involved only to cheat the innocent patients (see the judgment below).
The victim in this case did not die or suffered any permanent injuries but he suffered endless mental as well as physical harassment due to the greed by the Apollo doctors. The Kolkata doctors recommended needless investigations (CT and X-ray) but did not bother to explain that the patient was not affected with any serious illness. Fearing for life, the victim rushed to Mumbai Tata Cancer Center where he was clearly told that he had nothing to be worried. Since there was no real physical injury suffered by the victim, the court granted a compensation of Rs. 40,000/- (Forty thousands) for pain and suffering including Rs. 10,000/- as “litigation cost” to be paid, jointly and severally, by the Apollo Hospital and the two guilty doctors. In addition, the court has also directed that if the hospital and two doctors fail to pay the compensation within 1 month from the date of the Judgment, i.e. 30th September, 2015, they will have to pay additional “penal damages” at the rate of Rs. 200/- each day.
After holding the Apollo Gleneagles Hospital and two doctors guilty, the court also made numerous scathing and remarkable observations underscoring the greed and lack of compassion by the hospital/doctors some of which are reproduced below:
(page 15) “…….we are convinced that the entire part of examination and opinion of the Dr. Asok Sengupta is against ethics of medical science and it is not proper type of prescription, such a prescription is not even written by the Quack doctors……this is the position of the Apollo Gleneagles Hospital, their doctors who are there only for collecting money, squeezing money by different methods but treatment is ‘zero’ and that is the fundamental medical trade to deceive the patient …..”
(page 16) “But truth is that the doctors who are operating such machine for CT Scan, MRI etc. are not practically aware about the machine or about its operation. Everything is done by the technicians.”
(page 17) “Two doctors, one FRCS and another MRCP talked with each other along with report of Apollo Gleneagles Hospital report, CT chest report but both of them only talked and gossiped but no result is noted that is the conduct of the OPs and such a practice on the part of the OPs is no doubt unethical and against medical philosophy and for their negligent and deficient manner of treatment and diagnosis complainant suffered mental suffering, physical suffering, family suffering and financial suffering.”
In order to entice the naive and vulnerable patients, huge Billboards and newspaper advertisements by private doctors and hospitals with attractive medical packages and/or superlative claims for medical success are seen everywhere in India. In the absence of any effective regulation, Doctors and wealthy hospitals have completely transformed Indian healthcare delivery system as a highly profitable business in the mode of selling soaps, TVs or gold ornaments. But advertisements in any form that try, directly or indirectly, to promote medical practice or attract the innocent patients are absolutely illegal in accordance to the MCI “Code of Ethics & Regulations”.
But with rampant corruption crippling the medical regulatory systems in MCI and state medical councils (SMCs), no doctor or hospital ever cared to observe the laws against advertisement. In a rare move, Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC) has issued warning to 40 doctors in the Mumbai area for promoting themselves through public advertisement. But does “warning” really mean anything to these unscrupulous doctors? We will have to wait and see.