The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Medical council plea in Saha death case

New Delhi, Aug. 18: The Medical Council of India today told Delhi High Court that the West Bengal Medical Council should be impleaded as a party in a Calcutta medical negligence case to cancel the licence of two city doctors.

The national council, in its affidavit filed before the bench of Justice B.D. Ahmad, said under Rule 7.5 of the Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics Regulations, to suspend or cancel the licence of a doctor to practise medicine, the state medical council concerned should also be made a party.

The affidavit came on a petition by US-based doctor Kunal Saha, who sought a direction from the court to cancel the licences of Sukumar Mukherjee and Baidyanath Haldar. The two Calcutta-based doctors were convicted by the Alipore trial court in a case of medical negligence resulting in the death of Saha’s wife Anuradha, who was also a doctor in the US.

Mukherjee and Haldar have moved Calcutta High Court against the criminal conviction. However, Saha has moved Delhi High Court contending that, in accordance with various laws relating to the conduct and regulation of the medical profession, once a doctor has been convicted by a court the licence to practise should automatically be cancelled.

Saha cited the law in California, London and other parts of the West, besides the national medical council’s rule, which state that “pending appeal”, the licence should be cancelled once a doctor has been found to be errant in a negligence case.

This is the first time that a petition has been moved seeking to cancel the licence of two criminally-convicted doctors, though laws in the West have provisions for it and the national medical council’s rule also echoes it.

Saha, who was present during today’s court proceedings, said he would move a rejoinder to the national council’s affidavit and press for an early hearing to cancel the licence of the two doctors. He pointed out that the state council had already stated in a letter to the national panel on April 30 that it could not take action against the doctors and hence there was no need to make it a party in the case.

Saha has received threats to his life and the US consulate general has urged Indian authorities to provide him protection during his stay in India.

He would be in Calcutta to launch the state chapter of the Peoples for Better Treatment, an NGO he launched to fight medical negligence cases following his wife’s death five years ago in a city hospital.

The Supreme Court also recorded an affidavit detailing the formation and non-existence of medical councils in various states and union territories. This PIL has been filed by Saha’s brother-in-law, Malay Ganguly, who, too, had lost his wife allegedly due to medical negligence.

Ganguly’s PIL sought a direction to the national council and all state governments to implement the law effectively.

The national council contended that it could not take action against doctors registered with the state medical councils, while several state medical councils contended that a doctor might be directly registered with the national body and need not be registered with the state medical council.

It contended that in such cases a state medical council could not take action. In some other cases, a doctor is registered with a state medical council but practises in another state.

Senior counsel for Saha, M.. Krishnamani said — like the bar council rule — the medical council rule could be too changed so that once a doctor shifts his place of practise, he or she is required to register with that particular state medical council. “This would bring accountability,” Krishnamnai said.

The hearings would resume after two weeks.

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