Mumbai's top doctor was practising without licence for 24 years
An RTI query filed by a bereaved daughter revealed that orthopaedician Dr ML Saraf did not renew his registration with Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC) from 1988 to October last year; his name was not in the MMC register when her 73-yr-old mother died under his care last year
A doctor practising medicine in Maharashtra without renewing his registration with the Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC) is a quack, by the admission of MMC president Dr Kishore Tawri himself.
Going by this definition, one such quack is the city’s leading orthopaedician Dr M L Saraf, who works with Bombay Hospital. Asked whether a doctor can still practise without renewing his registration and upon the removal of his name from the MMC register, Dr Tawri said, “A person practising without registration, or renewing his registration is a quack.”
Documents available with MiD DAY show that for nearly 24 years, Dr Saraf didn’t renew his registration with the MMC, something that even caused his name to be removed from the MMC register. The precise duration stretched from 1988 to October 2013. However, Saraf kept on practising, first at the civic-run KEM Hospital- cum-medical-college, and later at Bombay Hospital.
The documents were obtained under the RTI Act by Nandini Suchde, who has also lodged a complaint against Saraf and other doctors of Bombay Hospital at the Azad Maidan police station, for professional negligence (‘5 top doctors from Bombay hospital charged with homicide after patient’s death,’ October 25, 2013). The documents show that Saraf got himself registered with the MMC only after October 2013.
Suchde has alleged that her mother Gitika Ghosh (73), who was under Saraf’s treatment, died because of negligence on part of the doctors in January 2013 at Bombay Hospital a time when he was not registered with the MMC. The FIR was registered under sections 309 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 201 (giving false information), 420 (cheating), 467 (forging documents), 471 (fraudulent use of documents) 109 (abetment) of the IPC.
“I filed the RTI enquiry with the MMC to find out whether Saraf was registered with the MMC or not. He wasn’t, and documents clearly show it. He finally registered in October 2013. I wonder how a top hospital like Bombay Hospital could have a doctor on its panel who wasn’t registered for nearly 24 years. I feel sad that I got my mother treated under a doctor who wasn’t legitimate, while he was treating her in January 2013,” said Suchde.
The RTI response says: ‘The copy of registration certificate of Dr M L Saraf is not available in this office. Originally, Dr Saraf M L was registered with MMC vide registration No 27723 dated 31.12.1971.’ The letter also states, ‘Dr M L Saraf had not renewed his registration till 1988-89.
Council has removed his name from the MMC register for time being. As per amnesty scheme of MMC, Dr Saraf applied for fresh registration on December 8, 2013 and MMC has issued registration certificate under registration No 2013/10/3157 dated October 8, 2013’.
Tawri explained, “MMC is the statutory authority, and rules of the MMC Act state that any doctor practising modern medicine in Maharashtra has to be registered with MMC. In this case, if the doctor’s name has been removed from the register failing renewal, it means that the doctor is practising illegally. It’s like driving a car without a driving licence and calls for criminal liabilities.”
The documents say that Saraf, in October 2013, paid a sum of Rs 29,400, for non-renewal and got a new registration number under the amnesty scheme. Asked whether this Amnesty scheme means retrospective regularisation, Tawri said, “The Amnesty scheme doesn’t mean that one’s past is regularised. While he renews the registration, we take a bond.
Submitting the indemnity bond, the doctor applying for renewal has to tell us on oath that there’s no case against him from the past, and if anything happens then it’s solely his responsibility, not of the MMC.” Dr Sudhakar Sane, the former president of MMC, who is also a lawyer, corroborated these facts, saying, “Practising without renewal of registration is illegal.”
IPS officer-turned-lawyer Y P Singh said, “The law of MMC Act clearly states that any doctor without being registered with the MMC and without renewal, is not allowed to practise modern medicine in Maharashtra. And in this case, the 24 years of practice by the said doctor is illegal.” Vivekanand Gupta, another lawyer, said, “Practising without renewal and registration with MMC is illegal and is a professional misconduct.”
What the indian medical council says
Section 1.1.3 of Chapter 1 of the Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics Regulations, 2002, states: No person other than a doctor having qualification recognised by Medical Council of Indian and registered with Medical council of India/State Medical Council (s) is allowed to practise modern system of medicine or surgery.
The other side
Dr Sagar Sakle, spokesperson for Bombay Hospital, said, “Dr Saraf is duly registered with MMC.” When we asked him how he was in the panel when he wasn’t registered from 1988-89 to October 2013, Sakle preferred not to answer. Attempts made by MiD DAY to reach Dr Saraf yielded no result, despite numerous messages and phone calls.