BMJ 2001;323:1385 ( 15 December )
Head of the Medical Council of India removed for corruption
Rohit Sharma, Mumbai
The High Court in Delhi has ordered that Dr Ketan Desai, the president of
the Medical Council of India, be removed from his post after it
found him guilty of corrupt practices and abuse of power.
Besides heading the council, which regulates the medical profession in
India, Dr Desai also heads the Indian Medical Association, which
represents India's doctors.
Because the council also regulates medical education, including the
establishment of new medical colleges and the number of students
that colleges can admit, it has enormous power.
A large number of medical colleges in India have allegedly become corruptaccused of illegally charging money running
into millions of rupees over and above the normal medical school
fees to give admission. This practice of charging "capitation
fees" was admitted and banned by the Supreme Court a few years
ago but is thought to still thrive illegally.
Running medical collegesmany of which are known to be controlled by
politicians of different partieshas become big business in India
since billions can be made illegally by asking for money from
students seeking admission and their parents.
Having invested a great deal of money in getting admitted to medical school,
some doctors want to recover their investment by charging
substantial amounts to patients or ordering unnecessary diagnostic
A writ petition was filed last year by Harish Bhalla, a private practitioner
challenging the appointment of Dr Desai, providing evidence of his
corrupt practices, his subversion of the council by usurping all key
decision making roles and appointment powers, and seeking his removal.
The petition accused Dr Desai of large scale bungling in medical admissions.
Evidence was also presented on manipulation of inspection records of
two medical colleges in Pune and Ghaziabad for granting them recognition.
Minutes of the council meetings showed that all critical decisions were
concentrated in Dr Desai's hands. Dr Bhalla presented details from
an income tax raid at Dr Desai's house last year, which showed
unexplained receipt of 6.5 million rupees (£95000; $136000) via
bank drafts in the names of his wife, daughters, and himself from
several people in Delhi.
The judges ruled that Dr Desai had misused his position as president of the
Medical Council of India. "We cannot allow an unscrupulous and
corrupt person to function as the president of the MCI [Medical
Council of India]," observed Justices Chopra and Kumar.
"Therefore we direct that Dr Ketan Desai shall cease to hold
office of president of the MCI with immediate effect," they
The judges also castigated the central government, whose officials had been accused
of connivance in the affairs of the council, for not discharging its
duties properly. Major General (Retired) S P Jhingon has now been
appointed by the court to head the council as an interim
administrator until the council is reconstituted.
Dr Ketan Desai, who has been removed for corruption
© BMJ 2001
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BMJ 2001 323: 0. [Full text]
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