New Delhi: Aam Aadmi Party on Friday accused the Congress, the BJP and the Samajwadi Party of trying to restore the clout of former MCI president Dr Ketan Desai in the Medical Council of India “despite the ongoing criminal cases pending against him”.
“Recently, Keshav Desiraju, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare was unfairly and arbitrarily transferred by Ghulam Nabi Azad, Minister of Health and Family Welfare of the Congress led UPA Govt, for the simple reason that he resisted the Congress and BJP facilitated return of Desai to the helm of the MCI,” alleged AAP in a statement on Friday.
Quoting an internal note dated January 7 and written by Keshav Desiraju, AAP claims that Desiraju, in his note, stated, “It is widely believed that all decisions within the Medical Council of India are being taken by the group led by Dr Ketan Desai… There is every likelihood that we will be forced to approve and notify decisions regarding courses, new admissions etc which have been made on the grounds of other than merit alone. This would be a very unfortunate position for the Government.”
Desiraju’s transfer to the department of consumer affairs, which was announced on February 13, evoked strong protest from eminent citizens, including historian and writer Ramchandra Guha, former Governor of West Bengal Gopalkrishna Gandhi, Biocon’s Kiran Mazumdar who wrote a joint letter to the Prime Minister expressing their concern over the abrupt transfer of Desiraju from the health ministry.
In April 2010, Dr Desai, then president of MCI, was arrested by the CBI from the MCI office on charges of allegedly taking a bribe of Rs 2 crore form the management of a private medical college, named Gyan Sagar Medical College, Patiala.
Earlier in 2001, the Delhi High Court vide its judgment dated November 23, 2001 had removed Dr Desai from the presidentship of MCI on charges of misuse of the office of the president and allegedly accepting Rs 65 lakh for himself and his minor children.
After the arrest of Dr Desai in April 2010, MCI was dissolved by the Central Government and the Board of Governors managed the affairs of MCI for three and half years.
However, the MCI was again restored in early November 2013 by the government ignoring its earlier commitment in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha to establish an overarching body, the National Commission for Human Resources for Health (NCHRH).
The Union Health Ministry using the old MCI election rules of 1980 reconstituted the Council and notified 85 doctors as MCI members. It is alleged by AAP that 25 of these were those who were Dr Desai’s close associates in the MCI in the past.
In October 2013, the Gujarat University, allegedly at the behest of Narendra Modi’s government, nominated Dr Desai as a member of the MCI despite two cases pending against him in the court of law.
However, Dr Desai is not as yet a member of the MCI for want of the notification by the Government of India.
“All important institutions in Modi’s Gujarat Government, the State Medical Council and the Gujarat University are all at the service of Ketan Desai,” the AAP statement claimed.
“Modi’s government which had initially suspended him (Dr Desai) in April 2010 from the state service, in wake of his arrest by CBI, has reinstated him in the service of Government Medical College at Ahmadabad. He has been made the Head of the Department of Urology in spite of the chargesheet by CBI and ongoing cases in the CBI court,” it said.
“Gujarat Medical Council under Modi’s Government did not obey the MCI’s direction to suspend his (Dr Desai’s) license to practice medicine in India. The directions for (Dr Desai’s) suspension were issued by the (MCI) Board of Governors in October 2010,” the statement said.
The statement added, “The Gujarat University has incidentally found only Dr Desai as most appropriate person to represent the university in MCI after his unanimous election by the University Senate which was done in an unusual Sunday meeting that lasted barely ten minutes!”
“It is not only Mr Narendra Modi and Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav is also not lagging behind. He has also taken up Desai’s case. On 09.12.2013, he had written a letter to Honourable Prime Minister advocating the immediate notification of Dr Desai in MCI,” the statement alleged.
It further said, “According to Mr Yadav, the Income Tax Department has not found any disproportionate assets/income against Desai and all the cases, barring two CBI cases against Desai, have been recommended for closure. Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav had requested on 09.12.2013 to the Honourable Prime Minister to notify him so that he may participate in the general body meeting of MCI on the very next date on 10.12.2013.”
“This clearly and unequivocally shows that vested interests from many political parties including the Congress, Modi’s BJP and Samajwadi Party have joined hands in Desai’s endeavour to enter MCI yet again. Such is the strength of this medical mafia, the ideological differences have been set aside by these political parties and everyone has come together in support of this known corrupt person which is part of their one common Principle – Corruption and Patronage to the Corrupt. They have thus displayed their complete contempt for medical education in India and thus jeopardising the entire healthcare system in India,” concluded AAP in the statement.
Referring to another issue, the statement said, “In the recent executive committee meeting of the MCI held on February 18, there seems to be a deliberate effort by the MCI under the influence of Dr Ketan Desai’s group of MCI members to try and keep the medical bodies and professional association of doctors expressly out of the ambit of the Code of Medical Ethics Regulation.”
Clause 6.8 of the Code of Medical Ethics Regulation 2002 states that it pertains to “code of conduct for doctors and professional association of doctors in their relationship with pharmaceutical and allied health sector industry”.
“However, the executive committee of the new MCI in its meeting on February 18 decided that the term “association of doctors” be deleted from the clause. The changes that have been attempted to be made by the MCI are part of agenda 15 and 56 of the minutes of the meeting dated 18.02.2014,” the statement said.