| Gauhati Medical College and Hospital |
Feb. 13: A former director of medical education was sen-tenced to life imprisonment today for committing financial irregularities while purchasing a cath lab for the GMCH.
The court of special judge, Assam, M. Mazed Ali, found former director of medical education Dr Atul Chandra Patowary guilty in a case related to financial anomalies in the purchase of a sophisticated cath lab for the GMCH which caused a loss of more than Rs 3.85 crore to the state exchequer.
The machine was purchased by the health and family welfare department of the state government in 1991-92.
A fine of Rs 10 lakh was also imposed on Patowary, failing which he will have to undergo rigorous imprisonment for another five years.
The court, however, acquitted former principal and head of the cardiology department of the GMCH, Amrit Kumar Baruah, because of want of evidence against him.
Baruah’s counsel Bijon Kumar Mahajan said the court was of the view that the prosecution evidence was not sufficient for conviction of his client.
The vigilance and anti-corruption branch of Assam police had registered the case (number 22/2003) on August 8, 2003 under Section 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant), 420 (cheating), 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy) and Section 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
The then AGP government had procured the cath lab from a Bhopal-headquartered company called M.P. Uni-Magna-Tech Limited, at a cost of around Rs 2.36 crore and another Rs 1.49 crore was spent for installing the machine.
The machine, however, could not be used for a single day because it was in an inoperable condition as it was damaged in transit.
According to the prosecution, Patowary had allegedly removed a couple of relevant paragraphs from the final agreement, which was signed between the company and the state government. In the draft of the agreement, there was a paragraph that the company will have to furnish bank guarantee equivalent to the cost of the cath lab machine. The prosecution submitted in the court that Patowary had not included this particular paragraph stipulating submission of bank guarantee in the final agreement in a bid to unduly favour the company.
A cath lab provides diagnostic imaging facilities, which helps a heart specialist to reach the heart of a patient through his veins. It is helpful in several procedures related to treatment of heart ailments, including a pacemaker installation.
A cath lab is an examination room in a hospital or clinic with diagnostic imaging equipment used to support the catheterisation procedure. A catheter is inserted into a large artery. Various wires and devices can be inserted through the body via the cath-eter which is inside the artery.
In this case, the special court had also examined former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta and former health minister Chandra Mohan Patowary as the machine was purchased during their tenure.