A doctor at Paradip port in Odisha, India, has been arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for allegedly accepting bribes to provide health clearance to crews of ships docking at the port. The doctor, identified as Rajendra Narayan Panigrahi, an officer of the Port Health Organisation (PHO), was caught red-handed accepting ₹54,000 ($722) in bribes from crew members of a shipping company named Eminence Shipping Agencies. According to CBI officials, the doctor would demand bribes ranging from ₹1,500 to ₹2,000 ($20 to $27) from each crew member for clearance certificates related to Covid-19, yellow fever, and other public health epidemics. Searches conducted at the doctor’s premises resulted in the recovery of ₹17 lakh ($22,700) in cash, US Dollar 20,558, and property documents for five land/houses in Odisha and Hyderabad.
The doctor had reportedly demanded over ₹1 lakh ($1,340) from 70 crew members of Eminence Shipping Agencies. However, he was caught when the crew members were giving him ₹50,000 ($670). After his arrest, Panigrahi was produced before a special judge in Bhubaneswar and was later sent to judicial custody as his bail applications were rejected.
This case highlights the issue of corruption in the healthcare sector, with the doctor allegedly exploiting his position to demand bribes for health clearance certificates. The CBI’s intervention and subsequent arrest serve as a warning to other officials who may engage in similar corrupt practices. The recovery of a large sum of cash and property documents suggests that the doctor may have been involved in such activities for a significant period of time. The case also emphasizes the importance of maintaining transparency and integrity in public health systems, particularly during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.