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Sting op by charity commissioner: Nanavati Hospital ordered to pay Rs 5 lakh

MUMBAI: In a first-of-its-kind high-profile case, State Charity Commissioner S G Dige has directed the trustees of the Balabhai Nanavati Hospital, Vile Parle, to pay Rs 5 lakh to the Chief Minister’s Medical Relief Fund for contempt of the Charity Commissioner.

In a strongly worded five-page order, Dige also asked the trustees to ensure that a comprehensive clarification is published in leading newspapers.

Dige was on a visit to the hospital on September 12, 2017 as a patient and to see for himself if the scheme for providing treatment to poor patients is implemented. When Dige found that there were rampant irregularities in the implementation of the scheme, he issued show cause notices to all the trustees.

Dige was shocked when the trustees, instead of replying to the notices, issued a statement to the media on his visit to the hospital. “The trustees created confusion about my visit, which in my opinion was the contempt of the charity commissioner,” Dige has stated in his order.

Then Dige issued a notice to all the trustees, asking them as to why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against them for issuing a statement against the charity commissioner. Besides tendering an unconditional apology, the trustees then submitted that a statement was issued to protect the image of the hospital. “We are tendering unconditional apology. There was no intention to commit contempt of the charity commissioner. Clarification to the newspapers was issued inadvertently. The charity commissioner should accept our apology and impose minimum punishment,’’ the trustees submitted.

Stating that it was well within the powers of the charity commissioner to know for himself if the high court drafted scheme is being implemented, Dige pointed out that intention of the trustees while issuing a statement to media was not honest. “I do not accept the contention of the trustees. If they were serious, no lacunae should be left while implementing the scheme for the poor. Trustees must function like trustees and not as owners of the hospital,’’ Dige said.

Dige said if the trustees are exempted from the contempt proceedings for tendering an unconditional apology, then trustees of other hospitals too will follow the same route. “Intentions of the trustees were not honest. I direct the trustees to pay Rs 5 lakh from their personal account to the CM Medical Relief Fund within a month,” Dige said. (TNN)

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