PIL seeks intervention from Health Ministry to remove tainted Ketan Desai as WMA president

Despite corruption cases pending in court, Desai was appointed as WMA president in October 2016.
PIL seeks intervention from Health Ministry to remove tainted Ketan Desai as WMA president
PIL seeks intervention from Health Ministry to remove tainted Ketan Desai as WMA president

A PIL has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking the dismissal of tainted Indian doctor Ketan Desai as the president of the World Medical Association (WMA).

The Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by People for Better Treatment (PBT), an NGO advocating for better healthcare in India also seeks disciplinary action against three senior members of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and the Medical Council of India (MCI) for “lying” in front of the WMA. 

The petition names MCI members Ajay Kumar, Sudipto Roy and Vinay Aggarwal, who allegedly told WMA that all legal proceedings against Desai in India had been dropped.

In its petition, PBT alleges that the MCI and the Health Ministry (respondents 1 and 2) did not intervene in the matter regarding Desai’s (respondent 3) appointment due to vested interests.  

Ketan Desai, who was the Medical Council of India chief, was arrested on charges of bribery and corruption and even spent time in jail as an undertrial in 2010. 

It was alleged that Desai along with three others accepted a bribe of Rs 2 crore from Gyan Sagar Medical College in Patiala for granting MCI accreditation.

His wife Alka Desai was also chargesheeted by the CBI as a co-conspirator in the case.

In the same year, CBI also alleged that he took Rs 20 crore as bribe from a Kolkata hospital for sanctioning the extension of its academic session.

Apart from this, he was also charged with possessing disproportionate assets by the CBI.

Following his arrest, then President Pratibha Patil dissolved the MCI soon after.

Desai was originally elected as the WMA president in 2009 but was not allowed to take office in 2010 as he had seven criminal cases pending against him. Desai has served as the head of MCI three times and chief of the IMA once.

To his credit, Ketan Desai was re-appointed as the president of the WMA last October despite the pending corruption cases. Both the MCI and the WMA are independent authorities tasked to maintain the highest standards of ethics in medical practice in India and the world respectively. 

At the time of Desai's appointment as head of the WMA, questions were raised about how a man facing criminal cases was made the president of a body responsible for upholding the highest levels of ethics for the noble profession. The WMA has repeatedly told The News Minute (TNM) it has no evidence of any wrong-doing by Desai. 

Desai's license was revoked by the MCI in 2010 given the grave nature of allegations against him.

“If somebody does not have the license to practice in India, how can we have him as the president of the world body,” US-based Founding President of PBT Kunal Saha told TNM

 “There is political backing for him from both the BJP and Congress otherwise how could he survive all these years,” Saha said adding the current attorney General Mukul Rohatgi has been defending him for many years now in other corruption cases."

Rabin Majumdar, the advocate representing PBT remains confident. “I am 100% confident to get Desai’s appointment recalled," he told TNM. 

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