Life-saving drugs siphoned off from military hospital, finds army inquiry
Life-saving medicines, including cancer drugs, worth several lakhs of rupees were siphoned off from the Army Research and Referral Hospital and sold in the open market, an Indian Army inquiry has found.
As many as 27 different kinds of critical medicines had been pilfered, according to the probe. The R&R, a super-specialty military hospital often considered the last word for treating critical ailments, annually buys medicine stocks worth ~ 200 crore and even supplies them to other army hospitals, when required.
The Army Headquarters has not yet ordered a wider probe into the racket — one of the recommendations made by the Court of Inquiry into the theft of drugs, meant for serving and retired soldiers, said a senior defence ministry official with knowledge of the matter. The army, however, did not comment on this aspect. The network operated with the help of private medical supplier spread across the country, the official said.
Last month, a similar drug pilferage network was unearthed in a military hospital in Mumbai.
In the present case, army authorities recovered Rs 6 lakh in cash during searches of the premises of some soldiers, suspected to be involved in the siphoning of medicines. Diaries showing entries of distribution of the ill-gotten booty were recovered from their premises too, he added.The well-oiled ring of critical medicines first came to light in August 2017. Subsequently, a sample check of the R&R stores revealed a shortage of ~56 Lakh. “A complete stock check was required to establish the total deficiency,” the official cited above said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
The summary of evidence – equivalent to framing of charges – is still not complete.
The inquiry completed in December 2017 found 12 soldiers — junior commissioned officers and other ranks – and private medicine suppliers based in Delhi to be involved in the racket. A report was filed with the Delhi Police on August 10, 2017, by the Drug Inspector of the Delhi government, which named a private supplier. The army inquiry revealed that only a portion of medicines ordered reached the stores, another defence ministry official, familiar with the development, said. The rest of the medicines never reached the hospital. They were allegedly sold in the open market. The army inquiry revealed that the shortage of critical medicines stocks at R&R was made-up by indenting additional supplies from military hospitals in Jaipur and Meerut. “The additional supplies from the other military hospitals were removed from books,” a third official said.
In response to a query on whether a Central Bureau of Investigation probe was recommended into the case, Colonel Aman Anand, spokesperson of the defence ministry, said no CBI inquiry was recommended in this case at any stage. “Proceedings are still going on,” he added.