The court has come to conclusion that Dr Lahane was responsible for Chhagan Bhujbal’s overstay in a private hospital.
Mumbai: Based on an application made by social activist Anjali Damania, a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court has held Dr T.P. Lahane, the dean of the state-run J.J. Hospital, guilty of contempt of court.
The court has come to the conclusion that Dr Lahane was responsible for senior NCP leader and former deputy chief minister of Maharashtra Chhagan Bhujbal’s overstay in a private hospital. Special judge P.R. Bhavake said, “The application (of Anjali Damnia) is allowed, the dean of JJ Hospital is held guilty of contempt of this court’s order and this matter shall be referred to the Bombay high court for contempt proceedings.”
Bhujbal was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money-laundering case in March 2016. He was hospitalised seven times from April till December 2016, spending a total of 80 days in various hospitals.
Speaking to The Asian Age, Dr Lahane said, “I am in Nashik and have not seen the copy of the court’s order. What I have understood from the news, though, is that this is court proceedings and contempt has not been issued yet. However, I cannot say anything until I see the order of the court.” He also said that he has neither favoured anybody nor has he broken any rules. “Whatever my say is, I would put it before the court,” Dr Lahane added.
Ms Damania, on the other hand, termed this order a big victory against the practice of high-profile political leaders enjoying a luxurious life in private hospitals with the help of jail authorities and some doctors of government hospitals. “I do not have any grudge against Dr Lahane or anybody else, but I just wanted to ensure that political leaders and other high-profile persons, while in judicial custody, should remain in jail and not in hospital on one pretext or another,” she said. “Now, no neta will misuse hospitals to stay away from custody and no doctor of government hospitals will dare to provide such extended stay,” she added.
Though Ms Damania had filed the intervention application alleging that it was sheer negligence on the parts of Dr Lahane and Arthur road jail superintendent Harshad Ahirrao due to which Bhujbal stayed in Bombay Hospital for so long without any valid reason, the court order, however, is silent on both of them.
Ms Damania had filed an application in the PMLA court saying that the court had granted Bhujbal permission to undergo only three tests, i.e. holter scan, electrophysiological studies and thallium scan. Her contention was that all these procedures could have been done in the OPD and did not require the patient to be admitted in hospital for more than 48 hours. However, Dr Lahane admitted Bhujbal in J.J. Hospital from October 28 to November 2, and then sent him to Bombay Hospital after discharging him from J.J. Hospital so that he could undergo the medical tests.
According to the applicant, when this was brought to the court’s notice, Dr Lahane tried to shirk responsibility by saying that he had discharged Bhujbal on November 2 and hence had done his duty of informing the prison authorities. Ms Damania claimed this was a lie because Dr Lahane was well aware that protocol involved informing two different authorities — the prison authorities and police — and informing only the prison authorities would not be sufficient.