Doctor caught on tape seeking bribe for diffability stamp?

CHENNAI: Chennai-based citizens rights group ‘Arappor Iyakkam’ on Tuesday, put out a video of what it claims is the Director and Superintendent of Government Ophthalmic hospital at Egmore, seeking a bribe of `500 from a visually impaired person for a disability certificate.

The seven-minute video shows a person seeking a disability certificate for 50 per cent visual impairment who is asked to pay Rs 500 as ‘fee’ for the certificate. When he said he did not have enough money, he is asked to get one of his friends to transfer the remaining sum. The man is then seen handing Rs 200 to what seems to be the ‘doctor’s assistant who in turn, hands him the certificate.

Jayaram Venkatesan, convenor of Arappor Iyakkam said, “The visually impaired person in the video, who is a volunteer of Arappor, had gone to acquire a certificate in the latest format since the old one had become invalid.”

He added that the Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan had informed him that an enquiry has been launched into the matter. A complaint has also been filed with the Directorate of Vigilance and anti corruption. Said S Namburajan, general secretary, Tamil Nadu Association for the Rights of All Types of Differently Abled & Caregivers (TARATDAC), “Usually the procedure for issuing the disability certificate is that the doctor performs the necessary tests and if convinced, hands over the certificate. There is no fee involved in the process; it is done free of cost”

“If the incident has taken place, it is indeed a shameful act to exploit a visually impaired person. But this is not an isolated incident; it is common to find brokers in many hospitals who act as mediators between the doctor and the differently-abled person.

“Doctors use these brokers to negotiate bribes and the certificates are handed over to the brokers,” he said.
In a statement, Arappor Iyakkam demanded that the doctor in question, K Sridhar, and his two assistants be suspended immediately and that they be dismissed from service after enquiry.

“The DVAC must also file an FIR and prosecute him under the Prevention of Corruption Act,” the statement said.

While K Sridhar was not available for comment, Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan said an enquiry committee has been constituted with the Dean of Kilpauk Medical College and Deputy director of medical education as members.

“The matter is being viewed seriously. If the video is factually corroborated, exemplary action would be initiated as per departmental rules,” he said.

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