Plea against Ketan Desai’s university post rejected

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

AHMEDABAD/NEW DELHI - The Gujarat High Court Wednesday rejected a public interest litigation (PIL) against the election of tainted former Medical Council of India (MCI) chief Ketan Desai to the Gujarat University senate.

The bench comprising Chief Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya and Justice Akil Kureshi also imposed a cost of Rs.10,000 on the petitioner.

The court, which stopped short of slapping a cost of $10,000, directed the petitioner to pay the money to the Indian Red Cross Society.

The judges said the petition lacked merit and did not have any public interest. They said the petitioner could not clarify his interest and intention in the petition.

“I am deeply shocked that the court dismissed our PIL that challenged the election of Desai,” said Kunal Saha who heads the People for Better Treatment (PBT), a doctors’ group which filed the petition.

The PIL was filed against the election of Desai to the senate against a seat reserved for a medical graduate.

The group in its petition said that Desai was arrested on graft charges and his medical degree was suspended by the MCI.

Desai was arrested in April this year for allegedly taking Rs.2 crore bribe from a Punjab-based medical college. The MCI suspended his medical licence in October.

“The court imposed a penalty of Rs.10,000 on the ground that there was no public interest involved in the petition even without letting my attorney argue,” Saha said.

“The court said that I cannot file the PIL as I am a non-resident Indian (NRI). The petition was filed by the PBT and similar petitions from us have earlier been heard by the Supreme Court,” he said.

The high court said it was unclear as to how Saha was concerned about public interest of Indians when he was settled in Ohio in the US.

Saha added that the doctors’ group would now approach the apex court.

The high court earlier said that Desai was an accused in a case but not proved guilty so far. The court said the law provided for a person guilty of scandalous behaviour to be suspended.

“Show us any provision that bars a medical graduate from contesting a senate election,” asked the court.

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