The CBI special court here on Friday convicted five accused while acquitting another five in the case of a Gurgaon kidney transplant racket that was busted in 2008. Dr Upender Dublesh and Dr Amit Kumar, who was termed a "quack" in no uncertain terms by the court, got seven-year rigorous imprisonment (RI) besides a fine of over Rs. 60 lakh each.
Both doctors also got four-and-a-half years in prison for commercial dealings in human organs and four years each for removing organs without authority, but as the sentences will run concurrently, the effective jail term would be seven years handed out for criminal conspiracy, forgery and criminal intimidation.
They are already serving a 10-year term in the Ambala jail after their conviction by a Faridabad court in another case of medical negligence that had resulted in death of three Turkish nationals. The CBI special judge refused to make that sentence concurrent with the jail terms handed out on Friday, though an appeal in the high court would possibly lead to that.
Among other convicts, Delhi resident Manoj Kumar, who used to work as a lab technician in Amit's Gurgaon hospital where illegal transplants used to be carried out, was sentenced to four years and six months of jail. Mohammed Shahid and Giyasudin, who used to lure poor pavement-dwellers as donors, got the same punishment as Manoj.
Manoj and Giyasudin have already remained in jail for the duration of their sentence, but Mohammad Shahid will have to serve around three more years. All three had made confessions before the judge near the end of the trial.
After recovery of the fine amount, Rs. 10 lakh each will be paid as compensation to three victims -- Babu Ram, Shakeel and Shahid -- whose statements had helped the prosecution's case.
On the quantum of sentence, CBI special judge Najar Singh said the convicts, being in the medical health sector, were associated with "the most noble profession": "Each and every human being reposes faith in the medical fraternity and the convicts have shaken that faith. Being doctors and those associated with medicine, [they] committed inexcusable sin in the society while their responsibility was far greater than what one expects of a common man." Those acquitted, meanwhile, are Amit's brother Jeewan Kumar, Upender's driver Jagdish Singh, nurse Linda, Alwar's Dr Krishan Kumar Aggarwal and Kanpur's Dr Saraj Kumar.
Abhishek Sharma and Manbir Singh Rathi, lawyers of Dr Saraj and Dr Aggarwal respectively, said the CBI had framed their clients with no evidence. While others also remained in jail for varying periods before bail, Aggarwal never even got bail and has been behind bars for five years.
Another accused, Yashpal Sharma, died during the course of investigations.
Anatomy of the crime
*On January 24, 2008, Moradabad police raided hospital of Dr Amit Kumar in Gurgaon on tip-off; found three men whose kidneys had been taken out; Dr Upender arrested. Month later, CBI got case and found the racket had been running since 1999. Amit was arrested and brought to India from Nepal on February 9, 2008, with Rs. 1.22 crore recovered from him in foreign currency.
*Middlemen lured pavement-dwellers on the pretext of employment. They were medically examined and kept in rest houses. Without their consent, their kidneys were removed and transplanted to rich people, including foreign nationals. While the unwilling donors did get Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 70,000 after the crime, the recipients paid Rs. 8 lakh to Rs. 15 lakh.
*Though Dr Upender sought naming the recipients as accused, the court rejected the plea. Delhi resident Rama Garg, who paid Rs. 6 lakh for getting the kidney, deposed against the doctor duo. Other witnesses included Navdeep Singh, who paid Rs. 15 lakh for a kidney for his father, and Mayank Maheshwari, who paid Rs. 6 lakh for his sister's kidney transplant.
Jan 24, 2008: Raid at illegal hospital of Dr Amit at Gurgaon; Dr Upender held
Feb 8: Case handed over to CBI
Feb 9: Mastermind Amit arrested in Nepal and brought to India
Mar 13, 2012: Charges framed against 10 accused
Mar 22: CBI court holds five persons guilty
*About Dr Amit Kumar, an ayurved practitioner and native of Akola (Maharashtra), the judge commented, "Amit performed unauthorised acts of removal and transplantation of human organs (kidney) knowing fully well that he did not have the requisite qualification…. As per rules, the required qualification for kidney transplantation must be MS in surgery with three years post-MS training in a recognised centre in India or abroad." Before Gurgaon, he worked at Mumbai and Jaipur. The judge called him a quack in the judgment.
*Meerut native Dr Upender Dublesh ran Sadbhawna Hospital in Faridabad. He was a close associate of Amit in running the racket. He had once filed an RTI plea before the CBI special judge asking that if all the accused applied for bail, whether or not it would be granted. The judge had replied that such kind of information could not be divulged.
*Serving time for deaths: A Faridabad court on February 28 last year sentenced Amit and Upender to 10 years' rigorous imprisonment in connection with the death of three Turkish nationals, Mehmat Bijayat (2003), Ismat Gunnar (2004) and Ahmed Yelidres (2005). The two doctors were held guilty for negligence in their treatment, though the initial charge was that the men from Turkey had come to get kidneys transplanted. The deaths had come to light only after the kidney racket surfaced in 2008.