US-based Indian doctor Kunal Saha, fighting a case of medical negligence in India over his wife's death, has moved a writ petition before the Calcutta High Court seeking action against the West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) and its functionaries for their 'deliberate violation' of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005.
The petition filed on Jan 11 also named WBMC president Ashok Chowdhury, its registrar D.K. Ghosh as well as the West Bengal Information Commissioner, charging them with violating the act.
Saha's wife Anuradha had died from alleged medical negligence during a trip to Kolkata in 1998. The WBMC acquitted all three doctors accused of medical negligence after an investigation, which Saha termed 'botched up' saying that the organisation had 'refused to provide any documents until now'.
Since her death, Saha, an AIDS specialist, has been fighting legal battles in different courts, including the Supreme Court, against the three senior Kolkata doctors (Sukumar Mukherjee, Abani Roychowdhury and Baidyanath Halder) for their alleged wrongful treatment and against medical corruption in India.
'The Right to Information Act has ignited the battle for medical justice in West Bengal,' Saha told IANS over telephone from Columbus, Ohio, in the US.
'The WBMC has always shielded the errant doctors through sham 'investigation' behind closed doors. RTI Act has given ordinary people an extraordinary power to fight this corrupt practice by the medical council,' Saha said.
'While separate 'criminal' and 'compensation' cases are still pending before the Supreme Court against these doctors, the blatant violation of RTI Act by WBMC has been challenged this week before the Calcutta High Court,' Saha said.
While Saha's appeal against the WBMC final order is pending before the apex court, he has sought all documents/materials related to the investigation of his complaint by virtue of the RTI. He said he had moved the high court because the WBMC remained non-responsive to his demand for documents.
Besides the 'criminal' case against the three doctors, a 'civil' appeal for Rs.1.43 billion (Rs.777 million plus 12 percent interest since 1998) are pending in the Supreme Court.
Saha in the course of his legal battle has formed an organisation called People for Better Treatment (PBT) after teaming up with other aggrieved patients in India.
The Calcutta High Court Thursday dismissed a plea under the Right to Information (RTI) Act filed by US-based Kunal Saha, who has sued five doctors for the death of his wife, on grounds that he is an NRI and thus not entitled to information under the newly enacted law.
NRI doctor threatens to move US Congress for justice in India
KOLKATA: An Indian American doctor has threatened to mobilise US congressmen and senators against Indian authorities denying him information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act in a case relating to his crusade against the corrupt healthcare system here.
Kunal Saha, whose wife died of alleged wrongful treatment in India in May 1988, said: "I am going to appeal to my senators and congressmen in US and will ask them to raise this issue with the Indian government on how they (judiciary and a medical board) can discriminate against a person only because he or she is a US citizen".
The Ohio based AIDS vaccine researcher, who has been fighting against malpractices in healthcare in India, wanted some information connected with West Bengal Medical Council's (WBMC) investigation into a complaint filed by him.
A single-member judge of Dipankar Datta last month rejected Saha's writ petition against WBMC president Ashok Chowdhury and secretary D K Ghosh on the grounds that he was an NRI and a US citizen and so not entitled to get any "information" under the RTI act in India.
According to Saha, the ruling was blatantly wrong on several grounds and the judgement simply discriminatory.
"The judge assumed that I'm a US citizen on the basis of a claim made by the WBMC authority. Although I'm a naturalised US citizen, the fact is that I've already applied for a dual citizenship (for the US and India), which the Indian government has allowed recently," Saha said.
He said he would soon bring the matter before the NRI community in USA and other countries as the judgement was vindictive.
"Should the US government treat citizens of other countries differently and deny them their fundamental rights only because they are foreign nationals?" asked Saha who has filed the highest medical compensation case in the country against Kolkata's AMRI Hospital and three doctors for causing his wife Anuradha's death due to alleged wrongful treatment.
The Supreme Court on March 31 had admitted a Rs.1.43 billion compensation claim by Saha after Delhi-based National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) dismissed the case in June 2006.
Saha had filed a fresh appeal before a division bench of the Calcutta High Court on Wednesday against the WBMC, which allegedly kept him in the dark about information he had sought under the RTI.
Persons of Indian origin(PIO) have right to information under Act: SC
PIOs have right to information under Act: SC
as reported by Ajita Singh, NEW DELHI, Sept 5: 2008, The Statesman
Persons of Indian origin (PIO) with the status of Pravasi Bharatiya under
the Overseas Citizens Act will now enjoy the same rights as citizens
of India do, as far as the Right to Information Act is concerned.
The Supreme Court today gave liberty to all overseas Indians to seek
information from any public authority/organisation or institution
under the Right to Information, Act, 2005, saying the right is
available to all persons of Indian origin (PIOs) who have obtained
the status of Pravasi Bharatiya.
The ruling, given by a bench of Justices Mr SB Sinha and Mr Cyriac
Joseph, came about on an appeal petition by an NRI scientist based in
the United States, Dr Kunal Saha, who was denied information by West
Bengal Medical Council on details of the medical treatment given to
his late wife, Dr Anuradha Saha, at a Kolkata hospital, on the ground
that he was not entitled to the same because he was not a citizen of
India. Dr Anuradha died in 1998 allegedly due to wrong dose/therapy
administered to her at the hospital, now called AMRI Hospital.
Dr Saha is a noted AIDS vaccine researcher at the Children's Hospital
and Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. He launched his fight
against medical negligence after his wife died in 1998.
Dr Saha had sought from the West Bengal Medical Council details of
the medical treatment given by three doctors ~ Dr Baidyanath Haldar,
Mr Sukumar Mukherjee and Mr Abani Roy Choudhury, as he had filed
cases of "criminal medical negligence" against the three doctors and
the AMRI hospital where his wife was treated before being shifted to
the Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai, where she died from TEN (Toxic
Epidermal Necrolysis) syndrome, a rare form of skin allergy in which
the skin keeps peeling off.
Dr Saha had approached the apex court against the Calcutta High Court
order of Justice Mr Kalyan Jyoti Sengupta rejecting Dr Saha's appeal
for removal of Dr Ashok Choudhary from the West Bengal Medical
Council's Disciplinary Committee. The NRI doctor had approached the
HC for removal of Dr Choudhury. The West Bengal Medical Council has
already declared that the three doctors were not to be held
responsible for Dr Anuradha's death.
dear members, as a doctor i am familiar with the case of kunal saha; i have gone through the judgment given by the National Commission analysing threadbare his allegations against top senior doctors; the treatment regime was approved by him when she was alive but after the death of the patient, he is criticisng the treatment. he has all the details of the treatment given to his wife. do not get carried away merely because he is patronising RTI. Let us all wait for the judgment of the supreme court.
As reported in indlawnews.com on 19 February 2009: IndlawNews
Calcutta HC directs West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) to file affidavit within 5 weeks
Calcutta High Court asked West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) to file an affidavit within five weeks, stating the reason behind delay in providing the investigation report on the death of a non-resident Indianís wife.
Justice Sanjib Bannerjee issued a ruling on a writ petition filed by non-resident Indian Kunal Saha.
In his petition, Mr Saha said he was entitled to get investigation report prepared by the Medical Council on the death of his wife Anuradha Saha.
But WBMC failed to response to his appeal.
Mr Sahaís wife Anuradha died in Bombay Bridgecandy hospital in 1995.
A city court sentenced two of the three doctors, who treated Mr Sahaís wife, to jail for a couple of months on a petition alleging that his wife died due to negligence on the part of the doctor.
Before moving the High Court he appealed before Information Commissioner to get the investigation report under RTI act.
The commissioner, however, rejected his application.
The case will again come up for hearing after five weeks.