For Prasanta Sukul, of Nilratan Sirkar (NRS) Medical College’s class of 1976, it was a brassy barb from his son that set him on a medal hunt.
The doctor, superintendent of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation-run tuberculosis hospital at Boral, is knocking on the doors of Calcutta High Court to try and lay his hands on a silver medal for his score in clinical medicine and a gold in medicine that have not reached him in 26 years.
Sukul’s tryst with his alma mater has finally been set for March 11 in court, where NRS principal Purnima Sau Mandal has been asked to be present.
Sukul says he had given up hope of getting the medals, but was stung into action when his son, in January 1999, asked to see the medals he had always heard about. “I could not show him the medals and, worse, I could not convince him that the fault was not mine but the system’s,” Sukul said on Tuesday. “I then realised that the only way I could see the medals I had won in 1976 was through the courtroom.”
Sukul contacted lawyer Kishor Mukherjee soon after the matter of the missing medals was raised by his son. On Mukherjee’s advice, Sukul filed a writ petition in high court, pleading that the college authorities be directed to hand over his medals.
Responding to his plea, Justice Ranajit Kumar Mitra directed the NRS principal, in April 2001, that “the petitioner (be given) the two medals, as had been certified by then surgeon commodore in the certificates dated November 10, 1976, within a period of two weeks”.
Nothing moved for a while, forcing the doctor to file a contempt plea on September 25, 2001, in the same court for “deliberate violation” of its order by the authorities. The case was later shifted to the court of Justice Barin Ghosh, who finally asked NRS principal Sau Mandal to appear before him on February 25 this year.
The principal clarified that the college did not have any intention of disregarding the court. “But we could not arrange for the costly medals because we are going through a severe cash crunch now,” she told the court. “We have, however, managed to hand over medals to those from the 1982-83 batch,” she disclosed.