CPS Certificate Scam ‘Specialists’ under scanner

July 16, 2018 0 By CH Unnikrishnan

As Maharashtra Medical Council digs deep into past files, more and more specialty diplomas could turn out to be fakes

CH Unnikrishnan

Even as the iconic College of Physicians and Surgeons of Mumbai (CPS) continues to give affiliation to more hospitals to conduct post graduate courses, the Maharashtra Medical Council sees more certificates allegedly issued by this 106-year-old medical examination body coming under its scanner as fakes. The MMC has already suspended registration of at least 20 doctors, who presented their fake post graduate diplomas supposedly issued by CPS, as part of an ongoing investigation into one of the biggest scams in the field of medical education in the country in recent times.
The CPS certificate scandal first surfaced after a couple of post graduate diploma students from rural Maharashtra complained to the state Medical Council in 2015 about touts calling them on the result day asking money for a passed certificate.

Many doctors, who were summoned by the Medical Council with doubtful specialty diplomas offered by CPS, have given written statements that the the touts, allegedly in collusion with CPS insiders, had promised that their failed results can be reversed for a price of Rs 5 lakh to Rs 7 lakh.
“In 2015 itself, we found some 73 doubtful cases where the names of passed students didn’t tally with many certificates submitted for registration,” said Dr Shivkumar Utture, president, Maharashtra Medical Council. More complaints started coming in 2016 and last year.
Utture confirmed that the Council has already suspended the registration of 20 doctors in the state.

The state council has now summoned another 53 doctors from across Maharashtra to cross verify their marksheets and certificates submitted for registration.

“We are now looking at past files, and as the investigation progresses, I am sure there will be more cases of manipulated results and fake diplomas,” added Utture.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg. I am sure the scam is much bigger than it appears. We have already suspended the registration of 20 doctors, one of them permanently. But we are helpless that MMC has no direct control over CPS,” he said.

CPS was established in 1912 on the lines of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of UK as a medical certification body, under Bombay Public Trusts Act. This charity body was constituted with a noble intention of training and producing better doctors with various specialisation for practicing in the state, especially rural Maharashtra. CPS offers fellowships and PG diplomas in around 26 disciplines, including ophthalmic medicine and surgery, gynaecology and obstetrics, dermatology and veneorology, orthopaedics, medical radiology and electrology.

Spreading the Net

CPS, which is governed by an elected committee, has been expanding its network of affiliated hospitals to even those outside Maharashtra, including those in Gujarat, Rajasthan and a few other states.

People in the know, who don’t want to be identified due to confidentiality reasons, said the current administration at CPS is now aggressively spreading its affiliation with even smaller hospitals in Maharashtra and other states.

“With the so-called touts actively operating within the system, mainly for manipulated results and fake certificates for a price, there are chances of many practising doctors and medical graduates from different parts of the country falling prey to this,” said one of the people.

The bigger risk is that these unqualified specialists are currently treating patients and even teaching at medical colleges. The 20 specialists, who already lost their registration, include surgeons, paediatricians, radiologists and gynaecologists. At least 80 more specialists, feared to have been actively treating patients for five to seven years at private hospitals, are also being investigated for fraud.

According to media reports, a doctor whose registration was cancelled permanently by MMC after finding that he acted as the main link in the racket to pay for result manipulation, claimed that he acted on behalf of certain influential people at CPS. He had even named the current President of CPS,

Dr Girish Maindarkar in the plot, the media reports said.

Dr Maindarkar did not respond to emailed queries sent by Future Medicine. His office said: “Our council members and president are busy with inspection of district hospitals in different states. Many states are interested in starting C.P.S. Courses. (Our) President will talk to you once he is back.”

MMC Probe

An MMC official, who didn’t want to reveal his identity, said that the council had called 53 doctors whose degrees appeared to be faulty, for a hearing. “The documents of these students have been taken up for scrutiny. Of the students who attended the hearing, six insisted that their degrees were authentic,” he said.

“At present, the MMC is only investigating the degrees of students who passed the examination in 2015,” he added.

The MMC decided to start the investigation in January 2016 when the registrar found faults in the certificates and marksheet copies submitted to obtain the ‘registered medical practitioner’ or RMP certificates for additional qualifications. The detailed list of candidates who failed in CPS diploma examination was procured directly from CPS in February 2016. On scrutiny, 20 degrees were observed to be fraudulent, and their holders were sent notices seeking explanation.

“It is an insider job. Someone within the college helped the students get the certificates, as everything on the documents is genuine, such as the emblem, ink, paper and other things,” Utture said in an interview.

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) too has expressed its concern on the issue. It has demanded strict action against all those found involved. It also requested the government to investigate the issue through agencies like the CBI, after suspending CPS’s operations till the investigations are over.
Recent media reports quoted IMA officials saying: “CPS was started with good intention, but over the past decade, the college has been involved in all kinds of irregularities. The college is run by a trust, so it doesn’t pay tax. It holds its own examination, frames its own syllabus. There is no control of the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences as well.”

“Since it is not covered under RTI, we demand that an administrator be placed in CPS till the MMC is investigating the scam. And MUHS should hold the examinations,” media reports quoted IMA Maharashtra office bearers as saying.

De-recognition of Courses

Maharashtra Medical Council had earlier withdrawn its approval to 27 out of 30 courses offered by CPS, and in January this year, the union ministry of health and family welfare de-recognized 36 post graduate diplomas granted by CPS. The decision came just four months after the ministry recognized the 39 PG diplomas. According to government sources, the de-recognition of CPS courses was taken following a strong recommendation from Medical Council of India (MCI) in the wake of the alleged irregularities in the examination process and certification.