Ministry health

Department of Health ‘considered football’ instead of making ‘one phone call’, says complaint alleging diploma fraud by Dr RK Vats

Complaint questioning authenticity of graduate degree held by top Health Ministry official Dr. RK Vats says ‘one phone call’ could have prevented him from heading National Medical Commission , the supreme body that regulates medical education and practitioners in India, instead of “footballing” the issue.

News18.com first reported on January 29 that the Department of Health and Family Welfare was investigating the authenticity of the PG degree held by Dr. RK Vats, one of the most powerful officers in the ministry.

He has headed at least four major institutions in India including the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS), HLL Lifecare Limited, National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) and National Medical Council (NMC). He has also played critical roles in food and drug regulatory agencies, FSSAI and CDSCO.

The lawsuit, which was first filed in October 2020, alleged that the postgraduate degree – MD in Radiation Therapy awarded by Kanpur University in 1985 – submitted by Dr. Vats is not genuine.

The Complainant, Barrister Surbhit Nandan, said in a letter dated March 22, 2021: “I had filed a complaint with the necessary documents on 26.10.2020 together with its attachments to the office of the Honorable Prime Minister of India highlighting the egregious facts requiring immediate investigation and necessary action”.

Blaming the department for the slow pace of the investigation, the letter says it is not only totally ‘unexplainable’ but ‘completely unwarranted’ that instead of taking immediate action, ‘this matter and this event has moved to the football of ‘one table to another’.

The complaint, a copy of which was viewed by News18.com, said: “It was intended that immediate action be taken by your department instead of allowing the gentleman concerned to continue in such a senior position within the National Medical Board required to perform important and critical functions.

She concluded that the deeds clearly indicated “the influence enjoyed by the gentleman concerned”.

A copy of the complaint letter, PG certificate submitted by Dr. Vats and response from Kanpur University was viewed by News18.com.

The letter questioned the ministry’s intent and said it would be justified in believing that “there is an unholy alliance and conspiracy with the upper echelons of your ministry to somehow ensure that such a serious problem remains hidden under the rug”.

“…This is not a necessary immediate action, thereby ensuring the unlawful pursuit of the man concerned into such high public office.”

On the face of it, the complaint appears to have resulted in Dr. Vats resigning from the NMC in June 2021.

Different Format Dr. Vats Diploma

Separately, in a communication dated March 5, 2020, seen by News18.com, Registrar of Chhatrapati Shahu Ji Maharaj University, formerly and popularly known as Kanpur University, said that according to the records of the University, the medical degree in radiotherapy of the year 1985 with Role No. 15 is not issued by the said University to Dr. Vats.

A copy of the complaint together with the response letter from Kanpur University stated that the photocopy of said PG degree is not similar to the format adopted and used by Kanpur University for issuing PG medical degrees to his students.

Letters exchanged between Dean of Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi Memorial Medical College (GSVM Medical College) and Registrar of Kanpur University show that according to available records Dr. did not complete or did not appear in the exam.

Slowdown of the investigation

In follow-up letters submitted to the Ministry of Health by Complainant Nandan in 2021, he expressed disappointment with the pace of the investigation against Vats.

“I was satisfied that my complaint/communication dated 26.10.2020 would merit immediate investigation. However, it appears that the investigation has still not begun,” the letter reads.

He called the matter “so serious”, which deserves “no delay in opening the investigation” for taking immediate corrective action. “There can be no two opinions that the subject matter of this matter is of an extremely serious nature,” the letter said.

“Your department, being an expert in medical education, must have noticed that there is no methodology for awarding grades or its percentage in evaluating candidates for PG medical degrees,” says the letter, while pointing out that the diploma mentioned Dr. Vats’ passing mark at 55%.

“It should have raised alarm bells for an immediate investigation into Shri Rakesh Kumar Vats’ claim that he has a valid and legal PG medical degree.”

The letter further stated, “…your department should have undertaken an immediate investigation which could not have taken more than one phone call from your office to the relevant officials at said university.”

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