RESEARCH

Private practice by government doctors is not corruption: Supreme Court

Friday, April 29, 2011

Quashing corruption cases against two government doctors from Punjab, a Supreme Court bench of justice Markandey Katju and justice Gyan Sudha Mishra said on Thursday the government doctors engaged in private practice cannot be prosecuted under the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA) or other penal laws.

At the most, they can be proceeded with for departmental proceedings under relevant service rules, the bench said, adding PCA of Section 168 of the Indian Penal Code that prohibited government officials from being engaged in unlawful trade could not be invoked against such doctors.

Dr Rajinder Singh Chawla and Dr Kanwarjit Singh Kakkar were booked by Ludhiana Vigilance in 2003 under Sections 13(1)(d), 13(2) of the PCA and Section 168 IPC on the basis of a complaint by one Raman Kumar who alleged the duo engaged in private practice charging Rs 100 as fees from patients.

Describing corruption as “acceptance or demand of illegal gratification for doing an official act”, the Supreme Court said: “the demand/receipt of fee while doing private practice by itself cannot be held to be an illegal gratification as the same obviously is the amount charged towards professional remuneration. [Source: HT]

The Supreme Court of India Judgment [Criminal Appeal No. 1041-1042 / 2011] Kanwarjit Singh Kakkar / Dr Rajinder Singh Chawla (Appellants) Versus State Of Punjab & ANR (Respondents)

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5 Comments »

Comment by daya sagar
2011-12-26 08:26:44

A Look through the mist
Private Practice to Government Doctors was allowed for a social cause and not for simply increasing their Income
*Private practice was for consultations and not for raising commercial enterprise*
*Those in the Medical Colleges should be given special grades no way less ( even more ) than superior bureaucrats*
By
Daya Sagar

This 25th November The J&K High Court has quashed the relaxations in the government service conduct rules allowed to the Doctors in the Government service as well as the school teachers permitting them to do private practice before or after normal duty hours. In the relaxation given by Government It had also been provided that where ever a Government doctor is not allowed private practice , he / she would be given a non practicing allowance ( 25 % ). Any how as regards the School teachers where taking to private tuition is now disallowed there is / was no provision for non practicing allowance. Suggestions are being made to government in the name of common man for working out ways and means to resume the provision of private practice by Government. The pressures and suggestions do not appear that much due to the concern for the common man. No doubt the provision of the private practice was created in relaxation of conduct rules in the interest of social cause and was not bad But objections against private practice by Government doctors had come because many of them had taken the provision as more for increasing the income . This had lowered the goodwill of even those who have all care for the society.
Earlier also when on 7-3-1986 Governor’s rule was imposed in J&K , Mr. Jagmohan , the
Governor, banned the private practice by government doctors on 31-5-1986 . Later a writ ( 668/1986) was filed in J&K HC against the ban but the same was contested by the State and was dismissed by a Division Bench on 17-10-1986. After the Governor’s rule ended , the popular government removed the ban vide SRO No. 42 dated 23-1-1987 allowing doctors to do private practice even as Government servants. It was on 20th July 1995 that there was a powerful RDX blast in Purani Mandi Jammu where in 21 persons killed on spot and 47 injured were reported .It was again Governor’s rule/ President’s Rule and the State Administrative Council decided on 21st July 1995 to ban private practice by government doctors in the light of allegations against some government doctors having committed dereliction of duty on the day of blast and SRO -196 was issued on 4th August 1995 banning the private practice. The popular government returned in 1996 . It was on 14 Jan 1997 that a local English daily reported that as per then Health Minister Dr. Mustafa Kamal there was no proposal to lift the ban on private practice by Government Doctors , he was reported as having said “ I have reports that a patient in Srinagar Medical College was given three years waiting for operation” adding “ all this is being done to exert pressure on the government”. And later in the CABINET meeting held on 14 April 1998 it was decided to again lift the ban on private practice by Government doctors.
Government Doctors had been allowed private practice for the reasons of social needs. But now since some doctors have started taking to a full-fledged commercial trade under the garb of private practice ( which had to be limited to local and emergency consultations only) of provision of private. It is also a fact that in general the government doctors in the private clinic do not handle serious emergencies and refer them to government hospitals ( even some local clinic s / nursing homes in Jammu / Srinagar who run with the assistance of local government doctors in many cases are found sending emergencies to government hospitals. Many nursing homes and clinics are running only with government doctors as consultants, the social logics appear having faded under the objective to simply increase the income. More ,so many private practitioners, retired government doctors and unemployed qualified doctors are now available ( atleast in towns ) and hence that need for allowing private practice to government doctors more to increase there income and less for social cause appears to exist since they are government servants and inspite of two bans bans imposed by government in the past in view of alleged misuse of provision by some doctors , the commercialization of private practice like a full time business enterprise in some cases to the extent of raising infrastructures has further grown. Allowing private practice like a regular business to only Doctors to increase simply their income through private enterprise is surely against natural justice when other government employees are denied private trade under conduct rules. And even payment of NPA to some government doctors who are not allowed private practice is illogical. If their wages are less and the public exchequer can afford , let higher salary be paid to to government doctors, but no private enterprise or NPA under any circumstances.
A Government employee is in principle required to be debarred from doing any private job/ business where as the one who is working in a private shop or enterprise (unless a particular contract is signed) is not. But there are some specials like pension ( Although discontinued for Central Govt employees , excluding defence forces, appointed wef 1st January 2004 and J&K Government employees appointed wef 1 Jan 2010, but I still hold that in view of restrictions debarring a government employee from rearing any private trade / enterprise interests during the service career the pension to government employees should not be discontinued), social & job security and authority / duty to directly or indirectly manage / control/ handle the state / public finances / resources / provisions / property with Government employees that are nowhere in the sight for an employee of a private firm. No, doubt government has authority to make / modify service rules but no government in a democratic country is expected to ignore the basic principles and codes that are must for one who has to handle the common resources / provisions of the State.
So , the question that needs be addressed to is that ::::Is private practice as is/ was allowed to doctors in government hospitals and government medical colleges in J&K and some other Indian States in the interest of social cause or it is simply for allowing doctors to increase their income? If it is to increase income, then the private work if also allowed ( before and after office hours ) to the low paid government employees (peons and clerks) will surely make them to meet the needs of education and health of their children in a better way. This may even reduce demands from government employees for increase in wages and dearness allowances? So if it is only to increase the income , should not be then raising a private enterprise be allowed to all the government employees before and after office hours if at all it is to be allowed to Government Doctors?
Many from other professions can sell their consultation like doctors do for health? It could be engineers, accountants, legal experts, medical assistants, and even police officers who could guide the litigants. If done so , will not the increased income help in raising the living standards of government employees? Temptations for corrupt practices too would reduce? Paying non practicing allowance to doctors who are not allowed private practice technically makes their job to look part time? If so then why provision of retirement and family pension for them? And in case some still find some justification for payment of NPA , then Non practicing allowance should also be paid to other government employees who are debarred from
So, any one who cares for appealing against the order of HC or may think of devising some mid way provisions must keep in mind (i) in principle private practice was allowed more to address local patient needs at odd hours than it was to increase the income (ii) private practice was for consultations and not for raising commercial enterprise (iii) government service is not part time so incase NPA is paid to a government employee it makes the service as part time , then why not pay to others also (a good engineer too can earn lakhs through consultation , accounts officer / accountant to can, medical assistant too can , a public prosecutor too can , and like .) (iv) these days there are many private hospitals / many retired doctors are there / many unemployed doctors are there / many general / majority patient needs (v) in case the salary of government doctor is found to be less and the state exchequer can afford to pay more , the salary should be increased , the post graduate doctors and those in the Medical Colleges should be given special grades no way less ( even more ) than superior bureaucrats (vi). It has been observed that often the private clinics/ private practicing government doctors ask the serious patients / emergency cases to go to government hospitals l / medical college hospital (vii) in case it is felt that in remote / distant / rural areas still there is a need to allow government doctors to see patients against monetary considerations before / after office hours then there on case to case basis government doctors could be permitted to do private practice and the payment received be named as honourarium and not fee ..
Any how , it appears that the PIL by Vichar Kranti Manch International had been necessitated since the Doctors did not take signals from earlier bans to put a check on commercialization, instead some of them moved towards still more commercialization. Limiting to local consultations would not have been objected to.
(Daya Sagar is a social activist and can be mailed at dayasagr45@yahoo.com 09419796096)

 
Comment by Dr Surinder Kumar Joshi
2012-11-20 20:16:46

The court ruling is more of splitting the hair. Because of mere technicalities, the real point is being missed.
It is only these kind of judgments that are encouraging the government doctors to indulge in such acts of corruption. The courts are not interested in finding out why so many patients have to go to the private clinics/ diagnostic centers of the government doctors.

MERA BHARAT MAHAAN

 
Comment by DR RAMESH VARDHAN
2012-11-22 09:48:14

Are judges , public proscecutors , army doctors , police personnel allowed to do private work ? How can any body work beyond stipulated hours , for that some one has to be super human being or a man with out a family or a quack , cunning & greedy ? If he\ she can , let them work for the government establishment instead of going for private pratice , which I think is the root cause for corruption . It is free hand given by the govt. to the doctors to involve in looting the patients, at times by creating fear psychosis in their mind.( patient’s). There are no clear cut messages from the govt. The policy is almost always confusing & misleading . This is an art of bureaucracy of BHARAT ? BAD FOR THE GOOD , & GOOD FOR THE BAD . I I T = IT IS INDIA.

 
Comment by Medical Student
2012-11-28 00:04:51

may i ask you sir, what benefit our college has got from you, I know your intentions are good, but the way is not at all good. You talk about detaining students who have less attendance.. but what if your attender gives the same attendance to few students just for few bucks. Does that mean just because i failed to purchase your attender or any other proxy means. i should be detained over others ??

If you would think genuinely der are many innocent students who are suffering in your college , coz of an un-complete newly built medical college. I know the person who has 60% is not eligible for exams but does it means who has 80-90 have been perfectly teached . I bet the quality your college gives us in education we cnt even treat single patient. but we cant spent our whole year in complaining and raising voice, we have got our future in there hand and they cannot exploit you but they can do a lot harm to us. you wont be there to help us then.

think over what you hav been doing, tomrw a student might be thinking of bringing a lawyer to your wife’s department as well.

 
Comment by Jenjin
2014-03-19 23:10:07

Doctors in Manipur are the most corrupt doctors in the world. They work in many hospitals at ones. They work at govt.hospital and at the same time practices in private hospitals. And above that they privately practice in their homes. And they are also given NPA. ABSURD!!!

 
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