Nepal must move first


Interview/ Dr P. Balakrishnan, former chairman, Tamil Nadu Medical Council

The council took away Dr P. Ravichandran’s licence when you were heading it. Then, it gave it back.

That was because of the criminal case. Once the court set him free last year, the council restored it.

But, the council restored his licence without carrying out a thorough probe.

No, we were not at all part of the investigation. We only listened to what the Bombay High Court said.

But, this is about medical ethics, illegal practice and violation of law. The law is that the council’s decision is final.

True, but we were not involved by the Mumbai Police at all. In fact, even if the court lets someone go free, we are not supposed to restore the licence. We have the right to investigate on our own before revisiting a decision. But, in this case, the place of occurrence was beyond our jurisdiction. So, we listened to the court when the doctor applied for restoration.

The transplant act says that only related people can donate organs. But, there are reports that hundreds of Nepali donors were recruited by a Tamil Nadu-based network.

I am hearing this for the first time. We have received no complaints yet. But, yes, if unrelated people are donating, it is punishable. But, all this might have happened in the past. Now, we are very particular about the screening procedure.

What role does the medical council play when allegations of organ trafficking come up?

We are the real body in charge. Police can initiate the process and register a case. But, they must inform us. Otherwise, they would not understand everything.

We have information that many doctors and several hospitals in Tamil Nadu were part of the racket. Nepal police have all the names.

I am stunned to hear this. We will carry out investigation if our doctors are involved.

Can you take action against hospitals?

Earlier, we could not. But, a recent High Court order said hospitals should come under the medical council. So, we can.

What kind of action can you take?

We can scrap the doctor’s licence and propose suspension of the hospital’s licence. The government is the licensing authority of hospitals. We took action against a hospital in Chennai which refused to admit people during the flood, because of which many patients died. We sent them a notice and it is being investigated.

What could you do regarding organ trafficking from Nepal?

The Nepal government should inform our Union government. Then, the Union government should inform us. Then, we can initiate action, even if there are no complaints. The council is autonomous and is empowered to take suo motu action.

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