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Dues keep fit Parekh in SSKM

There was a flutter in the administrative circles on Saturday when the SSKM Hospital authorities refused to release Ketan Parekh, accused of masterminding the Rs 120-crore share market scam, for non-payment of dues.

Parekh was admitted to the hospital on March 7 from the Presidency jail after he complained of chest pain. He was kept in a cabin at the Woodburn ward, meant for VIPs.

Officials said Parekh has not been released though doctors have declared him fit.

An official letter was despatched to this effect three days ago addressed to the jail superintendent, informing him of Parekh’s fitness and a Rs 15,000-bill incurred for his month-long stay in the hospital.

When the jail authorities approached the hospital to take Parekh back in custody, they were asked to pay up.

“We issued Parekh’s release order three days ago but he cannot be released unless the jail authorities clear the dues,” SSKM surgeon superintendent D.D. Chattopadhyay said.

But the jail authorities are loath to pick up the “exorbitant” tab. Jail sources said Parekh was kept in a cabin the charges of which are “quite high”. “He is an ordinary prisoner and should be treated like other patients,” said a jail official.

According to sources, undertrials are usually lodged in general ward beds, for which the government foots the bill.

The charge for a general ward bed is Rs 60, while that for a cabin is Rs 150. To keep a prisoner in a cabin, a doctor’s recommendation is required. An SSKM doctor had supplied the same for Parekh.

The additional charges of the cabin, in Parekh’s case, has triggered the problem.

“The family of the prisoner shoulders the extra expense. But no one from the Parekh family has come forward,” a jail official said.

Incidentally, Parekh’s 90 days in custody will be completed on April 20. If the investigating authorities do not file a chargesheet against him before that, he will be automatically released from police custody.

Till then, Parekh seems to be caught in a cash crossfire between two government authorities. “We are looking at ways to solve the problem. But Parekh is an undertrial and should be sent back to the jail now that he has been declared fit,” observed inspector-general of prisons Joydeb Chakraborty.

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