CPS 'stings' government doctor in private hospital
In a sting operation, Punjab chief parliamentary secretary (CPS), health, Navjot Kaur Sidhu caught an "absentee" government medical officer, Dr Sameer Kaushal (50), doing practice at a private hospital in SAS Nagar. The doctor, who is posted at a community health centre in Sangrur district, was arrested late in the evening.
She walked in as a patient and turned the tables on the doctor.
In a sting operation, Punjab chief parliamentary secretary (CPS), health, Navjot Kaur Sidhu on Thursday caught an "absentee" government medical officer, Dr Sameer Kaushal (50), doing practice at a private hospital here in Sector 70. The doctor, who is posted at a community health centre in Sangrur district, was arrested late in the evening.
Her face covered with a veil, Sidhu reported at Amar Hospital as Nafisa, a resident of Sector 68, SAS Nagar. Complaining of severe "stomach ache", she paid the consultation fee of Rs 250 and entered Dr Kaushal's chamber. Soon, she revealed her identity, taking the doctor by surprise. The hospital is being run allegedly by Dr Kaushal and his family.
Gurpreet Singh Bhullar, senior superintendent of police (SSP), SAS Nagar, said, "Based on a complaint by Laxman Singh Chatha, vice-president of the Panchayat Union, Punjab, Dr Kaushal was arrested under sections 168 (public servant unlawfully engaging in trade) and 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code. He was also booked under various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act after taking the district attorney's opinion."
Bhullar said deputy superintendent of police (DSP) RS Sohal would probe the case, adding that Dr Kaushal would be produced in the court on Friday.
Sidhu had targeted the hospital premises on Chatha's complaint. She later held a press conference in Chandigarh and demanded immediate stern action against the doctor.
Sidhu even wrote an open letter to health minister Madan Mohan Mittal, demanding the erring doctor's immediate suspension "to send a message to those remaining doctors indulging in such malpractices and bringing a bad name to the most respected profession".
She further wrote that government doctors were "working round the clock to provide services on a par with the private sector under the leadership of our magnanimous chief minister Parkash Singh Badal".
When contacted, principal secretary, health, Vini Mahajan, said she had been verbally informed about the episode and assured that disciplinary action would be taken against the doctor.
Sidhu said she had requested the Sangrur civil surgeon on August 6 to hold a detailed inquiry against Dr Kaushal, but it did not yield any result. Thus, she decided to "raid" the hospital herself.
'I'm being victimised'
"The sting operation is nothing but an attempt to malign my reputation. I am being targeted to send a message to other doctors," said Dr Sameer Kaushal while talking to HT at the hospital.
"I had been on leave for self-employment since 2007, when my father, late AN Sharma, started the hospital. At that time, I had informed the government that I am a member of the trust that runs the hospital. After the expiry of my leave, I rejoined in March this year and wrote to the government in May, seeking premature retirement. Having not received any reply, I assumed that my plea had been accepted. Thus, I'm serving out the notice period. I will retire on Friday," added Kaushal.
"I was on leave today (Thursday) as I was preparing my papers. I walked in to attend to the patient. Later, I came to know who she was when cameramen and cops swooped down on the hospital," added Dr Kaushal.
"If she (Navjot Kaur Sidhu) had received a complaint against me, what was the need to come as a decoy patient?" he said.