A SPECIAL court was informed Wednesday that senior NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal continued to remain in a private hospital almost a month after he was admitted there for a medical test. An intervention application filed by activist Anjali Damania says it is “sheer negligence of duty” of state-run JJ Hospital and Arthur Road jail that Bhujbal has been in Bombay Hospital since November 2.
On October 27, Special Judge P R Bhavake of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court had allowed Bhujbal to be taken to a private hospital after he was told that a Thallium scan, one of the three tests recommended to him, was not available at a government hospital in the city. On October 28, prison authorities took Bhujbal to JJ Hospital for the other two tests. He was then transferred to Bombay Hospital on November 2.
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From correspondence made available to the court, it emerges that Bombay Hospital wrote to the JJ Hospital dean on November 4 seeking the results of the other two tests for further medical procedures.
Damania claims that it was only on November 7 that the jail authorities wrote to JJ Hospital seeking an update on Bhujbal’s health. “It appears that the respondent number 2 (Arthur Road jail superintendent) was completely unaware of the whereabouts of his accused patient as the records show that the first letter seeking information on the state of health was sought by him on November 7, which was nearly 11 days after the accused was moved out of prison,” Damania’s intervention application states.
She adds that no information was sought despite the fact that Thallium tests are simple OPD procedures that don’t require admission to hospital.
The response to the Arthur Road jail superintendent’s letter was given by JJ Hospital on November 8 stating that Bhujbal had been referred to Bombay Hospital and was discharged on November 2.
Meanwhile, also on November 8, the Department of Cardiology at JJ Hospital wrote to the JJ dean, mentioning the results of all three tests conducted on Bhujbal, including of the Thallium scan conducted in Bombay Hospital. This letter further said Bhujbal needed a coronary angiography, which was available at both JJ Hospital and at Bombay Hospital.
On the same date, a letter was also written by the medical officer of JJ Hospital to the jail superintendent seeking advice on further action regarding the coronary angiography.
A senior official from Arthur Road Jail who did not wish to be quoted told The Indian Express that it was the delayed communication between the government hospital and the jail that caused the delay. “In such matters, the advice of the hospital is considered significant in deciding the course of action for the accused patient. We were advised by JJ Hospital about conducting the angiography at Bombay Hospital. We approached the court two days ago which told us that it should be done at JJ Hospital,” said an official. He added that the matter would now be heard next in the Bombay High Court on Monday.
The JJ Hospital dean has now submitted a response to Damania’s intervention plea. It says, “The decision of performing coronary angiography in Sir JJ Hospital or Bombay Hospital needs to be taken by the (jail) Superintendent.”
Damania claims that ‘scant regard’ was shown towards the court and sought that a show-cause notice be issued to both JJ Hospital and the prison authorities. She has also asked for an investigation into Bhujbal’s visitors to hospital.
The special Prevention of Money Laundering Act court has directed the Enforcement Directorate, the investigating agency, to file a reply in the matter and has also directed for JJ Dean T P Lahane to be present at the next hearing on December 8.