|Posted by DR.YOGIRAJ DESHMUKH on June 7, 2010 at 1:15 PM|
Ketan Desai's sudden arrest could open up a can of worms in the multi-billion rupee medical education business he was controlling through an elaborate ' inspector raj' in the Medical Council of India.
The tainted doctor enjoyed enormous clout with politicians from different parties who own and run medical colleges through trusts and societies.
MCI permission is a must for starting new medical colleges, increasing seats in existing ones, adding postgraduate courses and increasing student intake. It is this regulatory power that Desai reportedly abused to mint money and earn political patrons.
The number of private medical colleges has shot up in the past 15 years. The country has about 290 medical colleges, of which 160 are run by the private sector. The total intake for the MBBS course is 35,000 annually.
Each private college involves an investment of Rs 500 crore. Seats are sold for anything from Rs 25 lakh to Rs75 lakh.
So, timely MCI approvals are essential for a smooth running of business.
The CBI swoop on Desai on Thursday surprised many since it showed he had fallen out with his protectors in the government.
Of late, he had been working in tandem with the health ministry, particularly on the issue of starting a rural medical course. This was unlike the MCI's confrontationist attitude during the tenure of Anbumani Ramadoss.
The CBI probed Desai for the first time in 2001, after the Delhi High Court found him guilty of taking a bribe of Rs 65 lakh and abusing power. The court asked the agency to inquire further and prosecute him under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The CBI, however, gave him a cleanchit on flimsy grounds. The probe found Desai took Rs 65 lakh from two persons in Delhi. But in a closure report submitted to a special CBI court in 2005, the agency said it was " good will" money. It did not probe the other irregularities mentioned in the HC judgment either. It was later known that Desai had appointed the kin of a CBI employee in the MCI while the probe was on.
Desai staged a comeback after the Supreme Court disposed of the case in February 2009.
" Hopefully, the CBI will notlet him go scot- free this time," said a functionary of the Indian Medical Association ( IMA).
Incidentally, Desai has been using the IMA - which he once headed - also as his pocket organisation.
One full floor in IMA House at ITO was occupied by Desai. It has a large suite, a gymnasium and a front office.The CBI investigators raided this place also.
Desai, operating through his IMA cronies, got himself nominated to the executive council of the World Medical Association ( WMA). He then got himself elected as its president. Desai had even shared the dais with President Pratibha Patil and health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad during a WMA meeting in Delhi last year.
" There is no doubt corruptionin the MCI does not involve Desai alone. Evidence clearly indicates that most,if not all, members of the council were involved in this and other scandals. Infact, two separate public interest writs were filed in the Delhi HC against Desai for his sinister connection with other influential people. But both of them were withdrawn ( after the court issued notice) by the petitioners aftercertain deals were offered by the MCI," said Kunal Saha of People forBetter Treatment.
While the MCI is supposed to be an impartial regulator of medical colleges, Desai made himself a single- point authority for granting approvals and other such functions. MAIL TODAY had exposed last year how inspection reports of medical colleges were changed to suit Desai's whims.
He had been using inspections as histools to control private medical colleges. The council inspectors - appointed by him - were sent to check if colleges seeking approval or renewal had adequate infrastructure and met other criteria. Inspections were also carried out when colleges wanted to raise the number of seats or add new courses. The MCI panel then took a decision based on the inspectors' reports.