New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is widening the scope of its investigations of the Medical Council of India (MCI) and is accordingly probing all files related to inspections conducted over the last two years of nearly 40 medical colleges.
The investigators are examining whether any of these colleges offered monetary or other favours to Ketan Desai, former chief of the suspended medical body, who is presently in the judicial custody of CBI.
“We have seized over 170 inspections files from Desai’s office. The files belong to nearly 40 medical colleges spread across the country. In 2009, MCI inspectors had conducted around 130 inspections and at least 60 inspections took place in 2010,” said a senior CBI officer associated with the investigations, who did not want to be identified.
“We’re going through every single file to find those medical colleges that favoured him (Desai) for getting approvals, despite inadequate facilities and lack of required infrastructure,” the officer said
The officer said that during initial investigations, evidence indicated that Desai used his influence to grant approval to 10 colleges after accepting “hefty” favours from them.
“He accepted favours from the Laxmi Narayan Medical College of Chennai for running courses. We have recommended to our Chennai branch to register a fresh case against Desai and the college administration. They have been asked to investigate the matter further,” the officer said.
Siddarth Luthra, advocate for Desai, hadn’t responded to Mint’s queries at press time.
Apart from Laxmi Narayan Medical College, some of the colleges under CBI lens are Adesh Institute of Medical Science and Research in Punjab; Vikarabad Medical College, Santhiram Medical College, and Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences in Andhra Pradesh; Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences in Jharkhand; Sagar Medical College in Madhya Pradesh; Sree Balaji Medical College and Hospital, Annapoorana Medical College and Hospital, DD Medical College and Hospital, and Thiruvarur Medical College in Tamil Nadu; Baba Saheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar Medical College and Manyavar Kashi Ram Jee Allopathic Medical College in Uttar Pradesh.
MCI inspectors had made negative recommendations for most of these colleges in 2009, though the applications of several were later cleared. “We are checking into each and every college. Our teams will be visiting these colleges to verify facts. And if they are found guilty of irregularities and corruption, we will take legal action against them,” the officer said.
Except Santhiram Medical College, none of the other collegs responded to Mint’s emails and phone calls.
“In 2009, we were given approval by MCI. Our college is five year(s) old, we got MCI approval in 2005, 2006, 2007, but in 2008 we were denied approval. We even contested in court. In 2009, we got the approval. But on the sixth of this month (May), we were inspected again by MCI. Our degree for this year has been accredited and approved by them,” S. Nagaraj, principal of Santhiram Medical College, said.
The CBI officer said Desai was also threatening to take over the management of some colleges. “We’re gathering evidence on this regard.” However, the official said it is a difficult case as both the parties (the colleges and Desai) indulged in acts of corruption, “so there is no complainant”.
Desai was arrested last month. CBI said he was guilty of a conspiracy to fraudulently give recognition to Gian Sagar Medical College in Punjab, to enable it to run courses and take more students even though it did not meet MCI criteria. Desai had allegedly demanded a bribe of Rs2 crore.
According to CBI’s first information report, Desai was to be paid the bribe by J.P. Singh, an intermediary, and Kawaljeet Singh of Gian Sagar Medical College. Kawaljeet Singh carried money to Delhi on behalf of Sukhwinder Singh, vice-chairman of Gian Sagar Charitable Trust and one of the trustees of the college. They’ve all been arrested.
MCI was dismantled on 15 May and replaced by a six-member panel of doctors led by gastroenterologist S.K. Sarin.
On 21 May, CBI registered a disproportionate assets case against Desai. “As of today, we have found assets to the tune of Rs24 crore in his and his family’s name,” CBI director Ashwani Kumar told reporters.
CBI recovered huge amount of cash, gold and property in the name of Desai and his family. In Ahmedabad alone, it recovered documents on investment of Rs20 lakh in Hindustan Home Finance, a property in Sun Building Pvt. Ltd and a plot in Sun Village Project in Sanand. Desai and his wife are directors in Zems Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd. CBI recovered gold worth Rs39 lakh in two lockers, and gold and diamonds worth Rs38 lakh in another two lockers. Three bank accounts in Bank of Baroda’s Ahmedabad branch in the name of his family members had a balance of Rs1.8 crore. CBI recovered documents showing possession of properties in Andheri (Mumbai), a shop and an office space. Desai and his family own five vehicles, including a ToyataCamry, a HondaCity and a HyundaiSonata.
“We’re also looking his interest in real estate companies of Ahmedabad and Mumbai,” the officer said.