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Banana Republic

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Public Health

It is highly unlikely that all the directors of AMRI, Kolkata, were in charge of day-to-day functioning of the hospital. It was the same when the Bhopal disaster happened. The government went after Warren Anderson, based in the US, on behalf of Union Carbide, while knowing fully well that the state government of Madhya Pradesh held a majority stake (51%) in the Bhopal unit of Union Carbide.
In the pursuit of senior people/ owners of facilities, we end up targeting people who have a paying capacity. So, the vested interest for better compensation overtakes other considerations and the actual offenders often go scot-free. Should we pursue compensation or criminal justice when criminal negligence occurs? The manner of arrests in the AMRI case is a shame on criminal liability as well as on the Company Law.

In the AMRI case, instead of proceeding against the occupier or person in charge for day-today operations, the corporate veil was pierced in the very first instance and the law is trying to reach the directors, not considering AMRI as a legal entity, existing in law as distinct and capable of being sued in its own capacity. Many of them are on the board only because of their expertise or technical knowledge, but not engaged in day-to-day decisions of the hospital. Only in rare cases is the corporate veil pierced to look at persons actually on the board of directors of a company.
Look at it another way, how will the law treat a similar incident in a government hospital? Will the chief medical officer, health secretary or health minister be arrested? In the Mangalore Air India Express crash, or Jnaneswari Express train accident, no member of the Railway Board, or the chairman of Air India, was arrested. Are we saying that law is different for different entities? Are we not living in a country where we boast of the rule of law and equality before law – Article 14 of the Constitution?

For the full article in the ToI, click here.

The fire accident was tragic enough. But, the way the entire matter is being handled makes us look like just another Banana Republic. And, this way, the right lessons will never be learnt.

The government just can't manage everything for us. We very badly need private investment in every sphere of the economy, including hospitals. But, this kind of a handling is certainly going to scare away capital, even more than the present state of affairs otherwise already is, as is seen here.  

Tragic in far more ways than one.

Muralidhar Rao


murali772's picture

Professional approach by IMA

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The Indian Medical Association Saturday said no leniency should be shown to AMRI Hospital managing director and veteran doctor Mani Chettri, as it would set a bad precedent if one hospital director was shown mercy while others languished in jail. - - -

"We feel that no mercy should be shown to Mani Chettri because he was not arrested as a doctor but as an administrator just like other directors of the AMRI. If he is shown mercy and given a separate kind of treatment, then it will create a bad precedent," said Santanu Sen, IMA's West Bengal state secretary.

"Law should take its own course in AMRI (case). He was also one of the directors, just like other directors of the hospital," said Sen on the sidelines of a programme of the Indian Association of Physiotherapists.

For the full text of the report in YahooNews, click here.

Quite a professional and welcome approach by the association, under trying circumstances, one should think.

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