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Indian Medical Association Honcho Is A Munnabhai

Delhi Police has arrested on April 20  Dr Jitendra Kumar Sharma, a secretary and member of the executive committee of the Indian Medical Association  New Delhi branch, after the Delhi Medical Council lodged a complaint
PTI May 01, 2010 16:49 IST
PTI

Delhi Police has arrested on April 20  Dr Jitendra Kumar Sharma, a secretary and member of the executive committee of the Indian Medical Association  New Delhi branch, after the Delhi Medical Council lodged a complaint against him.

According to the police, Sharma was not only posing as a specialist physician, he had also managed to get himself elected to one of IMA's top posts for the years 2009-10 and 2010-11. The post of secretary in New Delhi branch of IMA is keenly contested and Sharma is perhaps the only quack in the country to have climbed the ladder this high.

At the time of his arrest, Sharma was working as a consulting physician in the Mirpur Dispensary at Lajpat Nagar in South Delhi and was a visiting physician in other charitable clinics, reports Mail Today.

He was also elected to the executive committee of the Delhi Medical Association ( DMA) from the New Delhi constituency, rubbing shoulders with high profile doctors such as Dr K. K. Agarwal, who was elected from the same constituency.

So brazen was his fraud, police says,  that a day before his arrest, the quack attended a medical conference at a five-star hotel organised by the Delhi Diabetic Forum, of which he is a joint secretary.

“If a quack can hoodwink the medical fraternity, imagine the fate of ordinary people,” said Dr Girish Tyagi, secretary, DMC. The IMA is a powerful body of Indian doctors and is represented in medical regulatory bodies, including the Medical Council of India (MCI), top technical advisory panels of the government and the drug controller.

It is a key participant in national health programmes on polio, tuberculosis, HIV, etc. Sharma's deceit, therefore, assumes enormous significance.Sharma claimed to possess a string of degrees and fellowships – MBBS, MD ( Medicine), Diploma in Sports Medicine, FIMSA, FCGP, FIGSA, etc. 

His letterhead and stamp describe him as ‘ senior consultant physician, cardiodiabetologist' and ‘ authorised medical attendant of Madhya Pradesh Bhawan at New Delhi'. The MP government has since terminated his services after the Delhi Medical Council ( DMC) initiated enquiries about him.

He has been booked for forgery and other offences under Sections 420, 468 and 471 of the Indian Penal Code, and under the Delhi Medical Council Act, 1977. “ We suspect that he is not even a graduate,” Tyagi said.Sharma's fraud came under the scanner for the first time in October last year during the city medical council elections. 

One candidate, Dr K. K. Agarwal, wanted to make Sharma his election observer. All candidates and observers were to be issued photo identity cards with their DMC registration numbers printed on them. But Sharma could not provide his, and informed Tyagi that he was registered with the Orissa Council of Medical Registration (OCMR).

Suspecting foul play, the council began investigating and asked Sharma to furnish his OCMR registration certificate. The certificate he produced mentioned that he had an MBBS degree from Behrampur University. When verified it was found to be forged; the number on the certificate belonged to someone else.

Besides forgery of certificates, Sharma took advantage of a legal loophole. It is mandatory for anyone practising allopathic medicine in Delhi to get a licence from the DMC. However, MCI rules say those registered with the MCI or any other state medical council can practise anywhere in the country.

The IMA membership rules mandate medical council registration as a precondition, but it is often overlooked at the time of elections when members are recruited by prospective candidates.

This is how quacks gain entry into the IMA and gain respectability in the community. A few years back, Gajender Bhati became an executive committee member of IMA's East Delhi branch and Vipul Tuteja attained a similar position in Delhi North branch.“We are shocked,” said Dr Narender Saini, president, DMA. “I have written to all branches in Delhi to launch a membership verification drive.” 

Interestingly, Sharma began his ‘career' in Delhi as a doctor-turned- health reporter sometime in 2003. “I remember the first time he came to our press conferences posing as the health correspondent of a local newspaper,” said Dr Anil Bansal, convener of IMA's anti-quackery cell in DMA and a past president of the DMA. “If the fraud was not detected, he could perhaps have become IMA president one day,” Bansal said.

Meanwhile, DMC said it would oppose Sharma's bail plea. The medical council's counsel Praveen Khattar said: “ He is a threat to society. Imagine the harm he has done to scores of patients till now.”