Thursday, March 1, 2012

Corruption Nepotism in Health Deptt

Excelsior today submitted a comprehensive reply to Motion of the breach of privilege moved by Health Minister Sham Lal Sharma dismissing all charges leveled by him saying it was duty of the fourth pillar of the democracy, called media, to highlight plight of the citizens of the State, who had been dying due to bad treatment, inferior quality of medicines and machinery and ill equipped medical and paramedical staff.

"Irregularities, bad services, corruption and nepotism in health sector has quite often been raised in the Assembly. Corruption and appointment of junior officials on important posts, illegal and dangerously flourishing business of unauthorized hospitals has caused a grave threat to human lives in J&K'', the reply filed by Excelsior Editor-in-Chief, S D Rohmetra before Assembly Speaker Mohammad Akbar Lone, said.

Following is full text of the reply:

"In response to the motion, as delivered on me for my comments, I have to submit that the bad condition of health care services in the State of Jammu and Kashmir has equally been the concern of Legislature, Judiciary as well as the fourth pillar of democracy called Media. Citizens of the State have been dying due to bad treatment, inferior quality of medicines and machinery, not adequately trained medical and paramedical staff. Many more have been suffering in terms of other related factors. Hundreds of petitions are under hearing with Judiciary, many more have been raised by honourable MLAs and MLCs in Legislature and all outlets of Media---newspapers, radio, television----have been carrying reports and stories on the deteriorating conditions every day.

Your good self has often taken irregularities and bad services, including corruption and nepotism, in health sector seriously and, quite a number of times, issued necessary direction to the Government. The number of questions and calling attention motions in Assembly on this malaise in health sector in itself is an indication how menacing proportions it has assumed over the years. In this context, state subjects have been repeatedly complaining to us that, mainly because of corruption and appointment of junior officials on senior positions, the illegal and dangerously flourishing business of unauthorized hospitals, nursing homes and clinical laboratories in the State has already caused a grave threat to the human life in J&K.

Driven by this concern, we have been carrying reports and stories on this particular subject without malice or prejudice for anybody as it is the primary responsibility of media to highlight such problems and bring same to the notice of other institutions for the purpose of necessary corrections and improvement. Wherever, an inaccuracy of facts creeps in, we have been fairly accommodating the official versions.

Now, with regard to the story pointed out by the Minister, we have to make it clear that it does not anywhere mention the name of Mr Sham Lal Sharma. Nor does it anywhere mention that Mr Sham Lal Sharma has fixed the hafta, we strongly believe, is being collected through extortion from owners and operators of these hospitals and nursing homes. We can not help if still he feels that it is "raising fingers" on him. Top corridors of power do not essentially mean the Minister in charge. As you are better aware, it comprises different strata of the system of governance.

We would further make it clear that we have nowhere infringed the privilege of any identified MLA or Minister nor reported any proceedings of the House in this report that could have been perceived as breach of privilege. Even if a legislator's or a Minister's name is mentioned in such kind of a story, which is not about the business or proceedings of Assembly, the aggrieved person has a right to come up with a rejoinder, that can be carried prominently, or else approach a court of law for defamation. The Minister in question has not taken recourse to either. Instead, he has, without any reason, substance and justification, moved this motion. We strongly reject his allegation that we have in any manner committed the breach of his privilege as MLA or Minister. Yes, it is our duty to make the executive, headed by Ministers, accountable before public through this lawful mandate. We assure you sir that we will carry on to discharge this responsibility.

We also strongly dismiss the complainant's allegation that we are in any manner blackmailing him. It is a fact that lawsuits between us are separately going on in different courts of law but we have been still accommodating his speeches and statements in the interest of our people. We believe that, instead, it is this honorable Minister who is trying to browbeat and silence this genuine and reputed organ of the fourth estate with false, frivolous and fallacious accusations. After approaching different courts, he seems to be trying his weapon by unjustifiably invoking the privilege of honorable members of the House.

With this detailed explanation, we beg to submit that the false and fabricated charge be dismissed forthwith and the complainant reprimanded for trying to silence media while taking refuge under the issue of privilege. As regards the appointment of junior officials as Directors, without the sanction of Cabinet and Establishment-cum-Selection Committee, we are continuing to document the cases, one by one, where Assistant Directors have been appointed as Directors at the peril of the services in health sector."

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