Jalandhar police book National Kidney Hospital owners in kidney racket

A special investigation team (SIT) of the Jalandhar police on Monday booked a doctor couple who own the city-based National Kidney Hospital, Dr Rajesh Aggarwal and his wife Deepa Aggarwal, a month after the police claimed to have busted a kidney racket run from the hospital.

The doctor couple, who are residents of Chhotti Baradari locality in the city, were booked under sections 18, 19 and 20 of the Human Organs Transplantation (Amendment) Act, 1994 over serious violations of norms. 

The SIT comprising additional deputy commissioner of police (investigations) J Elanchezhian, ADCP (headquarters) Alka Meena, ADCP-II Amrik Singh Powar and SHO Navdeep Singh, is reported to have questioned the couple for nearly eight hours at the local police station.

The two were allowed to leave the police station on the basis of an earlier court directive that the police should issue a notice to the doctors three days ahead of arresting them.

"The court order mandated three days' notice to them before their arrest," said Jalandhar additional deputy commissioner of police (headquarter) Alka Meena, who is a member of the SIT probing the case.

Now that the two have been issued notices, police said the couple would be arrested after three days as per the court orders. 

Police registered the case after a report from the Director of Medical Education and Research (DMER), which confirmed serious procedural lapses in the case of seven transplant surgeries in which identities of donors were forged.

The police confronted the doctor couple on Saturday with records to corroborate them with a report of the directorate of medical education and research (DMER) that has arrived on 28 August.

DMER, which is the competent authority to sanction hospitals to conduct kidney transplant surgeries in Punjab, has also confirmed serious procedural lapses in seven transplant surgeries that are under scanner.

Police have already arrested four donors from UP and Haryana, who had sold their kidneys. Besides, police arrested Harminder Pal, who was working in collection centre of Lal Path Labs owned by Dr Deepa Aggarwal.

It was found that Pal was involved in swapping samples sent for DNA matching. The transplant coordinator of National Kidney Hospital, Sadhna, was arrested and she also claimed that Dr Aggarwal was aware of everything and she worked on his directions.

Sadhna, who had surrendered on 11 August, had accused doctors of warning her against giving any statement against him.

Police said lapses have been detected in the seven transplant surgeries such as missing signatures of the competent authority.

Earlier, doctors had claimed that Sadhna was authorised to check all papers before a surgery but it has later turned out during investigation that Deepa was also authorised for the same.

Police is also investigating other routine transplant surgeries besides the ones already under the scanner, Meena said.

About the possibility of the hospital being sealed in the wake of the scam, she said investigations are on and the role of the management is being probed and action will be taken accordingly.

Deputy inspector general of police (investigations) Nilabh Kishore has started investigations and gone through the records submitted by the city police to him last week. It was after his directions that the police came into action and summoned the owner couple.

The police had, on 31 July, arrested Junaid Ahmed Khan, Vardan Chandar, Kuldeep and Saboor from the Baaz Celebration Hotel for their involvement in the kidney racket and on 1 August, they arrested Harwinder Singh, a helper at Sunder Labs, who allegedly used to change blood samples to match the DNA sample reports of donors and recipients.

The laboratory, located on Garha Road in the city, is a collection centre of the Deepa Aggarwal-owned Dr Lal Path Lab.