Over 2,500 government medical doctors in Bihar, serving as well as retired, are facing charges, including that of sexual assault on nurses and maidservants.
While the most common complaint against them pertains to unauthorised absence from duty or the place of posting, many of them are also accused of keeping two wives, misbehaving with nurses and female patients, issuing false injury reports besides financial irregularity and being drunk while on duty.
Some of these cases have been registered in police stations recently but a majority of the complaints against them have been lying pending in the Health Department since the early '90s.
Health Secretary Deepak Kumar, however, told HT that only 280 government doctors were facing departmental proceedings. "I have already issued directive for the speedy disposal of such cases," he said.
Notwithstanding the secretary's claim, a report prepared by a nine-member committee reveals that till about a year ago the number of complaints against serving doctors was 3,000 in the region. The committee had been set up in 2005 by the department for removal of anomalies in the service conditions of the doctors belonging to the health cadre.
Former Deputy Director, Health, Dr CP Singh, who was also a member of the committee, said that 4,332 complaint cases had come up before the committee. Of them, roughly 1,000 had been disposed of, while the rest were pending disposal.
A senior official in the Health Directorate said that in the last one year, 500 to 700 cases were disposed of and the rest about 2,500 were pending. In the past few months, some cases of serious nature have been added to the list. This fact was corroborated by Patna SSP Kundan Krishnan who said that complaints of sexual exploitation of nurses and maidservants in the district were on the rise.
Participating in an interactive session of police officials and the IMA members in Patna on Sunday, Kundan said that many cases were registered in the districts in the last one year, where nurses and maidservants had alleged sexual exploitation by doctors.
Singh, who is also a patron of the Bihar State Health Services Association (BSHSA), said that the majority of complaints were of frivolous nature and should not have been entertained at all by the department.
Citing an example he said that in 2003 the then Health Minister had ordered suspension of a doctor. The fault of the medical officer was that he had spoken to the Press. "There are many such examples, where complaints have been lodged because of the whimsical attitude of politicians in power," he said.
The BSHSA convenor, Dr Ajay Kumar, said that because of the charges, most of which were of minor nature, the doctors suffered untold miseries. "While many of them have been denied increments, some of such medical officers have not been given promotions due to them for long," he said adding that as per the service rules also the cases should have been disposed of within six months.