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Indian American Doctor Fights for Information

Kolkata: 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 R TI. 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.


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