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Munishwar’s purpose, however, was served. Citing mental illness as the reason, he got Risheshwar’s name struck off the board of directors. At the registrar of companies office in Kanpur, he produced a certificate declaring Risheshwar mad. No prizes for guessing which doctor issued the certificate.

Rishi also points a finger at the judiciary. In a country where court proceedings drag on for years, he wonders how he was declared mad within a couple of hours on the basis of Gupta’s medical certificate and how the court could order his admittance to an asylum. Risheshwar says Munishwar has political clout and narrowly missed a bjp Lok Sabha ticket from Agra. Munishwar refused to talk to Tehelka.

Even as more cases, of divorces, land disputes and embezzled property tumble out every day, there is widespread resentment and condemnation. The National Human Rights Commission (nhrc) has sought reports from the Uttar Pradesh government and the Agra Mental Asylum on Tehelka’s exposé. Taking quick notice of the horrifying story, the nhrc has now asked the up home secretary to send in his report within a fortnight. The National Commission of Women too has taken strong exception and is sending a team to Agra (See interview). The team will be meeting the wives who spoke on camera about how their husbands had colluded with the doctor when they were in perfectly good health. For fear of prosecution, the husbands are now trying to contact their wives again, an issue that the ncw plans to take up with the wives and the husbands. As Poornima Advani, ncw chairperson, said, “for the sake of the women, we have to ensure speedy prosecution of doctor Gupta.”

The entire staff at the asylum is already rallying against Gupta. Not very liked by his colleagues (see profile), some of them talk about how he would even eat food prepared for the asylum’s patients. Dr Gupta, who went underground as soon as the exposé came to light, has still not been found by the Agra police. Uttar Pradesh Chief Development Officer Sriram, who is heading an inquiry into the exposé, says, “No one will be spared if found guilty.” He says more and more people are approaching him with false certificates issued by Gupta. He, however, says that the inquiry will take more than the stipulated three days. Incidentally, Sriram was transferred six times in one year because he took severe action against Agra doctors found guilty in a Pulse Polio Programme scam. Agra Special Superintendent of Police Ashutosh Pandey says, “Video recordings are not permissible as evidence in the court so we cannot lodge an fir against Dr SK Gupta.” He adds that no victim has come forward and lodged an fir against Gupta as yet. Ask him why the state is not lodging an fir itself and he doesn’t have a convincing answer.

Agra District Magistrate Neetishwar Kumar says that he has written to the registrar of the Allahabad High Court to ask the Agra family court to submit all the records of divorce that involve Gupta’s now-famous certificates. He says that anyone with any information about Gupta can approach him directly. He promises them complete confidentiality. The chief medical officer of Agra, Roshan Lal, describes the entire Gupta episode as unfortunate.

In a system where the nation watches politicians taking bribe on tape and yet the guilty go scot-free, we can only wonder when Gupta will be brought to book. The Agra ssp’s refrain that the camera cannot lead to the registration of an fir, when his own chief minister has suspended Gupta, is shocking. But says KTS Tulsi, an eminent lawyer, “I will take the matter right up to the Supreme Court. The evidence is conclusive and clinching.”(see interview) Gupta is no big politician with high connections in the corridors of power. And yet, the system is dragging its feet. A demonstration, yet again, of the uncomfortable truth that the judiciary is having to step in because the state is refusing to do its job. Time and again.

July 17, 2004

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