CHENNAI: More than a month after he was caught on camera demanding a bribe, K Sridhar, suspended superintendent of Government Ophthalmic Hospital, Egmore, on Thursday committed suicide by hanging at a friend’s house in Ponneri.
In September, a citizen action group released a video of the doctor demanding bribe of Rs 500 from one of its volunteers, who was partially blind, to issue a disability certificate. The health department later set up a two-member committee to probe the matter.
Dr Sridhar was placed under suspension pending inquiry by Dr Geetha, additional director of medical education and Kilpauk Medical College and Hospital dean Dr P Vasanthamani.
In October, the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption launched an inquiry. Sridhar admitted that he used to receive Rs 100 or Rs 200 from beneficiaries while issuing the certificates. DVAC sources said Sridhar was not supposed to collect money from beneficiaries and if any amount was to be collected, it was to be done by Jothi Ramalingam, an assistant in his office.
Sridhar was booked under Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 section 7, 13(2) read with section 13(1(d).
Sridhar’s family and friends advised him to stay away from the city for a while and he had been staying at his friend’s house in Mallivakkam, around 6km from Ponneri, for the last five days. Neighbours say he was rarely seen outside.
When phone calls to him went unanswered on Thursday, his family members asked a few friends nearby to check. They found his body hanging from the ceiling and alerted police who sent it to the Government Hospital in Ponneri for autopsy. A case was registered under CrPC Section 174 (unnatural death).
Senior officials in the health department said the doctor was due for retirement on November 30 when allegations of corruption came to the fore. “He had been in government service for more than two decades. The suspension took a mental toll on him,” said a senior health official, who did not wish to be named. The department said his family would still be entitled to his pension benefits, “whether guilty or not.”
Leading medical ethics body, World Medical Association appointed tainted Indian physician Ketan Desai as its president last week.
Reuters reported that Desai who has previously headed Indian Medical Association delivered his speech at the body’s annual assembly in Taiwan on Friday and is set to serve as the president for the 2016-17 period.
The appointment of Ketan Desai as the president of an ethics body is ironical, as Desai is an accused in corruption cases in India.
Desai’s name was first proposed as a future president in 2009, but was suspended in 2010 after he was jailed as an undertrial in a corruption case. (currently being heard by the Supreme Court).
PTI reported that Kunal Saha, President of People for Better Treatment (PBT), an advocacy group, demanded an intervention following the development sent a legal notice to the MCI and the Union Health Ministry.
He had allegedly taken a bribe of Rs.2 crore from a private medical college in exchange for favours regarding accreditation from Medical Council of India.
It is alleged that Desai along with three others accepted the bribe from Gyan Sagar Medical College in Patiala in exchange of permission to admit a fresh batch of students.
His wife Alka Desai was also charge sheeted by the CBI as a co-conspirator in the case.
In the same year, CBI also alleged that he took another Rs.20 crore as bribe from a Kolkata hospital for sanctioning extension of its academic session.
Apart from these allegations of accepting bribes, he was charged with possessing disproportionate assets by the CBI.
Following Desai’s arrest, the MCI was dissolved by the then President of India Pratibha Patil.
His suspension was lifted in 2013 after the IMA told WMA that charges against Desai were dropped which a Reuters investigation deemed “incorrect”. But the body went on to appoint Desai as its president.