Venality may be a Factor: An Instance for Study by the Health Minister

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Fortunately for Orissa, the department of utmost importance to human life – the department of Health and Family Welfare – has come to Dr. Damodar Raut, a highly proficient and experienced minister, who can hardly be hoodwinked.

But I am afraid, it will not be easy for him to manage the venal mandarins in this department. I throw an instance for him to study. It pertains to the Chief Minister’s district, Ganjam.

A Very Grim Picture

Orissa has three government Medical Colleges, one of which, MKCG Medical College, is situated in this district. Being the most eminent health care institute in the CM’s own district, it is expected that the College must be having required faculty and facilities. But the reality is blatantly different. The Dean-cum-Principal of the College has written several letters to the Government seeking improvement in faculty position. I will pick up only one for analysis. It bears the despatch number 5970/MCB-2012/Estt-1 and is issued on 10 September 2012. It gives us the shocking account of how a super-specialty department like Endocrinology is being managed by a single person who is a mere assistant surgeon having no requisite qualification for teaching.

When “incidence of non-communicable diseases including Diabetics is mounting”, the Principal has said, the department is having not a single qualified teacher. The only teacher the Government had posted six years ago has gone back to his private practice at Cuttack the next day of joining and has not returned to work despite notices.

Serious Misconduct

“Dr. Sudhir Ranjan Pattnaik has joined as Associate Professor Endocrinology on Dt. 26.06.2006 forenoon on his promotion and transfer from SCB Medical College, Cuttack. Dr. Pattnaik has left his department on dt. 28.06.2006 and is unauthorized absent from duty till date. In spite of several requests and draft charges, he did not turn up. It is reported that he is doing private practice on the broad day light at Cuttack. The department was jeopardized since 28.06.2006. One assistant surgeon has been posted in the department which is not at all sufficient to manage the day to day routine work”. Thus has reported the concerned Principal to the Government in the letter noted above.

MCI Norms Blatantly Violated

As per norms prescribed by Medical Council of India, the department of Endocrinology is bound to have at least one Professor, one Associate Professor and one Assistant Professor in the faculty. But the Principal’s letter establishes that there is not a single faculty in the department of Endocrinology in the M.K.C.G. Medical College, whereas the mandarins in the health department have posted an assistant surgeon to man the super-specialty department. This indicates how blatantly the MCI norms are violated.

Joining Just to Grab a Promotion

As the letter shows, Dr. Sudhir Ranjan Pattnaik was transferred from SCB Medical College, Cuttack to MKCG Medical College, Berhampur on promotion to the rank of Associate Professor. He joined the Berhampur College on 26.06.2006 and left the College for Cuttack the next day, creating vacancy in the only faculty post since 28.06.2006. He has been in private practice at Cuttack since then and has not come back to Berhampur.

Official records show that “soon after his joining he applied for five days Casual Leave on ground of his father’s illness. Thereafter he is extending the leave from time to time on the grounds like urgent works and father’s illness, causing dislocation in teaching and patient care” The official records further show that, “His leave was refused and he was given recall notice by the DME&T vide his letter No. 13684 Dated 13.10.2006. But he did not join duty and instead sent leave applications thereafter. The Government sent notice again on 13.06.2007 vide order No. 15727 asking him to join immediately as his absence was causing serious dislocation in teaching and patient care. He did not care a fig.

Proceeding

This being serious violation of Orissa Government servants Conduct Rules, 1989, he was charged with (i) Disobedience of orders of government/higher authorities, (ii) Negligence in duty and (iii) Misconduct. The Government promulgated a Memorandum on 3 March 2008 bearing number 6224 that subjected him to disciplinary proceedings under Rule 15 of Orissa Civil Services (CC&A) Rules, 1962. The statutory ‘Statement of Allegation’ annexed to the Memorandum reads:

“Dr. Sudhir Ranjan Pattnaik, Associate Professor, Endocrinology, MKCG Medical College, Berhampur remained on prolonged absence without leave address after joining for duty on a promotional post on transfer from SCB Medical College, Cuttack. He is (the) only senior teacher to man the Department of Endocrinology at MKCG Medical College, Berhampur. He has taken leave, even if his leave has been refused and recall notice has been issued vide Notice No. 15727 Dt.13.06.2007. The unauthorized absence of Dr. S.R.Pattnaik adversely affected teaching and patient care”.

Proceeding Suppressed

This disciplinary proceeding is suppressed and Dr. Pattnaik has not been subjected to rigors of inquiry by the Disciplinary Proceeding Authority for the misconduct shown in the charge sheet. On the other hand, no step has ever been taken to demote him as he has not at all worked as an Associate Professor to which rank he was promoted.

Misconduct Rewarded

Dr. Pattnaik is a private practitioner in Endocrinology at Cuttack. Through a dubious process, he had grabbed a lecturer post in Endocrinology in February 1997. The matter had formed the crux of a case in the State Administrative Tribunal vide O.A.No.166/97 and the condemnable role played by the then Health Secretary Ms. Meena Gupta in obliging Pattnaik had annoyed the administration. A recall of this makes it clear that since the beginning of his career Dr. Pattnaik has a great clientage in his private practice at Cuttack, for which, just after grabbing the promotion by joining at MKCH Medical College, Berhampur, he had rushed back to Cuttack, whereto he was lobbying for a posting. The incumbent Secretary of Health has taken steps to make his lobby successful.

The Secretary of the department has moved a file to reward Dr. Pattnaik with a posting to SCB Medical College, Cuttack in the rank of Associate Professor in blatant disregard to the fact that by abandoning his post at MKCG Medical College immediately after joining, he has abandoned his promotion, as during these six years, he has not taken up any class as the Associated Professor.

As far as I know, as on today, the concerned file is on the table of the health minister Dr. Raut.

Whether he will succumb to the nefarious game the bureaucracy has played in this case or will reject the Secretary’s proposal with orders for enquiry into why instead of proposing for demotion of Dr. Pattnaik as he has not rendered any service in his promotional post so far, his posting to SCB medical College with benefits of promotion is proposed; and if not venality, which is the factor behind this move, will certainly be watched.

Post Fixing

A similar proposal is on the anvil, as per confidential sources in the department of health, for continuation of Dr. Bijaya Kumar Sahu in the Capital Hospital, Bhubaneswar, on his promotion to the rank of Joint Director, Health, Level-I. This is post fixing in favor of Dr. Sahu, who has been in the same place of posting for more than one and half decades. If not venality, what factors his constant posting in Bhubaneswar needs also be investigated into.

There are hundreds of instances where the mandarins in the Health secretariat have protected the black sheep and pushed health care into disarray through fixation of postings.

We may repeat an earlier observation that in the health department, “posts are being clandestinely auctioned and whosoever gives the highest click gets posting to his/her center of choice against “any available vacancy” in that center!

Innocent doctors are being transferred from their posts to accommodate the highest bidders and representations of the Doctors as such disadvantaged are kept pending for years till palms are greased for fetching a favor”.

With no change in the scenario and honest Doctors perishing in disadvantageous posts in difficult terrains for decades so that the dishonest ones that pay more time to private practice than their duties in government hospitals may stay in lucrative places, we had wondered, if humanitarian Doctors need godfathers in order not to be harassed.

In Service without rendering any service!

But the government does not bother. Dishonest Doctors earn huge money from private practice. They abandon their duties in government hospitals while continuing in government service. Like Dr. Pattnaik, they fetch promotional benefits without rendering any service in the posts promoted to. Their services are never terminated for abandonment of duty. They are usually regularized when they join in their posts of choice.

They stay in service even without rendering any service! One such example is Dr. Nishit Mohanty.

He belongs to the Orissa Medical Education Service and is a faculty in Nephrology.

But from the day one of his faculty career, he has not taken a class either in the college of his posting or in any Medical College under the Government. He is working in top private hospitals at Bhubaneswar and has a roaring private practice. Government has not taken any action against him.

He deserves to be dismissed with retrospective effect. But that is not happening.

If no action is taken against him till he reaches a qualifying age and stage for pension, he shall join just to get the pension and fetch fabulous amount of pension and gratuity and all ancillary benefits from the State exchequer.

Dr. Raut may verify the service book of this man and find out why the Secretary of his department has not taken any action against this Doctor.

I have given these samples just to see how the Minister reacts. You may keep it in the category of case study.

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