Criminally accused doctor becomes head of world medical body

Indian Doctor Ketan Desai, is facing a number of corruption charges involving alleged bribery and corruption.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Ketan Desai, the former president of the Medical Council of India, walks after his hearing at a courthouse in Lucknow, India, June 27, 2015

The World Medical Association (WMA), the top medical-ethics body installed Ketan Desai, an Indian doctor facing corruption charges as its president, despite controversy surrounding his appointment while legal cases are pending.

After he was first selected in 2009 as a future president of the WMA, Desai faced conspiracy and corruption allegations.

Desai has denied any wrongdoing in connection with the pending cases.

"I don't think there's anything we want to add to what we have already said," Nigel Duncan, spokesman for WMA said.

In one case filed in New Delhi in 2010, Desai faces charges of corruption and criminal conspiracy for allegedly being involved in a conspiracy to obtain a bribe of $450,000 at the time from a medical college.

In return, investigators allege Desai helped the school get permission from the Medical Council to add more students.

Desai was arrested in the Delhi case and jailed in 2010 pending a possible trial.

He was later released on bail.

That year his inauguration as the WMA president was suspended. In 2013, the WMA decided to lift the suspension after receiving assurances from the Indian Medical Association, which Desai once headed.

Proceedings in a separate case, allege that Desai was involved in a conspiracy to have the Medical Council of India allow a private medical school to add more students.

Based in France, the WMA sets ethical standards for physicians worldwide and represents millions of doctors.

Known for its pioneering work in ethics, its members include the American Medical Association and the British Medical Association.