Had Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain responded swiftly to allegations of corruption against public servants in his department, he could have saved himself from being ostensibly caught up in the Delhi Dental Council (DDC) scam in which the CBI caught two persons accepting a bribe. The allegation is that the bribe money taken by the council registrar was meant for Jain.
The accused, registrar Rishi Raj, and advocate N Pradeep Sharma, allegedly accepted a bribe of Rs 4.73 lakh from dentist Sanjay Arora to provide a favorable judgment in a case filed against Arora by a patient. DNA quoted Arora saying, "He (Rishi Raj) said the money will go to the minister. The meeting occurred on 16 January, 2018, and Rs 1 crore was demanded for clearing me in the review order (of case filed against him by a patient) jointly by advocate N Pradeep Sharma and Rishi Raj.”
In no time, a seemingly unholy link between Jain and Raj surfaced. The CBI laid its hands upon three property documents allegedly belonging to Jain that were in the custody of Raj. Forty-one cheque books in Jain's name, his wife's name and in the name of a private estate firm were also discovered.
The AAP was quick to offer a rebuttal: These documents were earlier submitted to Income Tax Department and hence could not be held against Jain. "The properties in question were already disclosed by Jain in his election affidavit as well his tax returns and the related documents were taken by the CBI in last year's raid at his residence," an AAP source told NDTV.
But what the AAP and Jain cannot deny is the purported link between Jain and the Delhi Dental Council. According to Raj, the CBI also later recovered three laptops and hard drives allegedly belonging to Jain from the residence of Delhi Medical Council president Arun Gupta.
What the AAP and the minister also cannot deny is that the government turned its back on the complaint of unethical behaviour earlier filed against Raj — in the same case —and thereby encouraged his alleged misconduct.
In 2016, Udit Aggarwal, an NRI, received dental treatment from Arora, CEO, Zental Dental Clinic, Delhi. Aggarwal accused Arora of misdiagnosing him with Temporomandibular Joint Disorder. He also accused him of wrongly, negligently and recklessly grinding down 12 of his natural, healthy teeth.
“Such extreme treatment gave no significant relief to me from the symptoms. On the contrary, it significantly worsened my health, so I filed a case with the Delhi Dental Council, a quasi-judicial body,” Aggarwal told Firstpost. The DDC sent the case to it Complaints, Ethics and Disciplinary Committee. The committee engaged Ajoy Roy Choudhury, professor and head of the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Department, AIIMS, as an expert.
After an investigation, Choudhury reached two conclusions in his report: Arora did not follow the due procedure of diagnosis to conclude that the patient suffered Temporomandibular Joint Disorder. To diagnose the disease, the patient needed to undergo an MRI, which wasn't ordered.
“Any diagnosis confirmation and treatment should be started only after MRI as per the guidelines of America Society of TMJ surgeons,” his report said. The report further threw light on the treatment of the patient, saying that conservative therapy was also not given to the patient.
The report added, “The dentist changed the occlusion and incisal guidance for the patient without going through the usual protocol of trying out conservative therapy.” After hearing both parties and taking the report into consideration, the council declared that there was nothing wrong with the treatment Arora provided.
Aggarwal, who termed this decision 'utter nonsense', told Firstpost, “The Delhi Dental Council connived with the doctor and passed the judgment in his favour.” Firstpost contacted Delhi Dental Council vice-president Saranjit Singh Bhasin for his response, but he said he was unaware of the case details. “A sub-committee examined the case. It'd be better if you contact the committee. I won't be able to comment," he said.
Firstpost then contacted Deepesh Dhalla, a member of the sub-committee. But he too expressed inability to comment and suggested that the chairman of the sub-committee be contacted. Firstpost attempted to contact sub-committee chairman PN Awasthi, but he did not respond.
Why was the alleged bribe paid?
Though the DDC absolved the doctor of negligence, it also observed that Arora’s website contained claims about his professional degrees which are not recognised by the council. The council said he also displayed his photo on his website and made "tall claims" about his treatment outcomes, which was against the ethical principles of the profession.
The committee directed him to rectify the website within eight weeks from the order, which was passed on 20 July, 2017. However, no such changes have been made to the website. A source in the council, speaking with Firstpost on the condition of anonymity, claimed the money demanded by Raj was to amend the order to allow Arora to keep his website as is. Arora has claimed in the media that the money was demanded to "settle" the matter.
Aggarwal also wrote to the Delhi government, claiming that the registrar was behaving in an unethical manner. In an email addressed to the president of Delhi Dental Council, also marked to Jain, Aggarwal complained that the registrar advised him to settle the matter amicably with Arora despite "overwhelming evidence to suggest Arora’s unethical and unscrupulous activities".
"But Raj suggested that I amicably settle the dispute by following the procedures suggested Arora. This, despite the fact his earlier treatment failed miserably,” Aggarwal added.
Arora dismissed the allegations levelled against him by Aggarwal as 'frivolous'. "I have been fighting a frivolous complaint by a patient to extract money from me at the DDC for more than one-and-a-half years now," he said, according to the DNA report.
Though Aggarwal raised several complaints about the functioning of the Delhi Dental Council, Jain did not pay heed. Now, the CBI has decided to question Jain. Had he acted promptly, Jain might have spared himself.
'No negligence or wrong treatment on part of my clinic'
Arora told Firstpost there was no negligence in treatment or wrong treatment on the part of his clinic, and that treatment was prescribed as suggested by leading textbooks. He also added that Aggarwal himself defied the doctor's advice which aggravated his ailment. "While he was with us in treatment he reported 30 to 100 percent reversal of various ailments for the first time, gave happy hugs and even gave the doctor a costly gift. Then, at a crucial fine adjustment period, where he was instructed to present himself every alternate day, he vanished for 25 days, thus jeopardising his treatment. Free repeat treatment of 100 hours was given considering his young age and the fact that he apologised. In the final stages of second treatment, he went against the doctor's advice and got a tooth extracted elsewhere."
Arora accused Aggarwal of misrepresenting the facts and said that his clinic had CCTV records to prove that he lied at various stages and issued threats. On the findings of the expert committee report (that MRI test was not done before the patient was treated) Arora claimed Aggarwal himself refused to undergo an MRI, citing a hearing disorder (Hyperacusis).
"Since he refused to undergo an MRI, we had to conduct Joint Vibration Analysis (JVA) test, which is equally effective. But he chose not to mention this test in his various complaints."
Arora also claimed that Aggarwal received conservative treatment in other clinics before approaching him. "Aggarwal was suffering from many severe problems for eight years. This, even after visiting AIIMS and undergoing surgery at Apollo Hospital."
Editor's note: An earlier version of this article reproduced a quote of Dr Sanjay Arora from DNA, to which the dentist took objection. Firstpost has since revised the piece with a statement Dr Arora gave to our reporter.
Updated Date: Mar 19, 2018 17:10 PM