Court grants bail to man accused of extracting payment from patients at Safdarjung Hospital

A Delhi court Friday granted bail to a middleman, arrested along with a Safdarjung Hospital neurosurgeon and others, for allegedly forcing patients into buying surgical equipment from a particular establishment at exorbitant prices for early dates of their surgery.

Noting that the investigation in the case is almost complete, special judge Anil Antil granted the relief to Avnesh Patel, observing that he was working under the instructions and directions of main accused Dr Manish Rawat.

The judge also noted that the entire documentary and electronic evidence has already been seized from the hospital and other places.

“Taking note of the nature of accusations and the role attributed to him by the prosecution as stated to be working under the instructions and directions of main accused Dr Manish Rawat, and taking note of the custody period of the applicant, i.e. around 51 days in total, the accused is admitted to regular bail,” the judge said.

According to the prosecution, Dr Rawat was colluding with Patel and others to extract payment from patients for medical consultations and surgical procedures while flouting the hospital’s established protocols.

It was alleged that the surgeon had directed his patients, via his middlemen, to purchase surgical instruments from Kanishka Surgical, whose proprietor Deepak Khattar has also been arrested, forcing them to pay inflated prices.

The CBI has claimed that the doctor coerced the patients into paying more than the actual price for the surgical items, and that the shop owner shared the profits of overbilling with the accused physician.

The investigation further revealed that Rawat directed his patients to deposit bribes ranging from Rs 30,000 to Rs 15 lakh into a middleman’s bank account, the federal agency claimed.

The judge, while granting bail to the accused, directed him not to tamper with the evidence of the case or influence the witnesses in any manner.

The court also directed the accused to join the pending investigation of the case as and when required by the investigating officer.

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The accused had sought bail on grounds that he was arrested on March 30 and was no longer required for the investigation.

The CBI had opposed the bail application, claiming that the investigation was at a crucial stage and the evidence was still being collected.

Within a span of two years, the accused seems to have dealt with about 700-750 patients and have transacted almost Rs 2.5 to 3 crore by extracting money from the patients and their attendants, the agency alleged.

Dr Rawat and Khattar are still in custody in the case.

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