Medical Professionals will not be tugged into the Criminal Proceedings: SC

Medical Professionals will not be tugged into the Criminal Proceedings: SC

Unless any Negligent act or omission of high order is done, the Medical Professionals will not be tugged into the Criminal Proceedings

In the recent case of Anjana Agnihotri v. State of Haryana, the Supreme Court observed that the Medical Professional should not be tugged into Criminal Proceedings , until something more than mere negligence had been proved. The doctor was accused of medical negligence for allegedly not attending a woman after cesarean operation been performed on her. This resulted in her death and the doctor’s omission was held the reason by the prosecution. The Appellate courts, reversing the order of Trial court, rejected the application.

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“To prosecute a medical professional for negligence under criminal law it must be shown that the accused did something or failed to do something which in the given facts and circumstances no medical professional in his ordinary senses and prudence would have done or failed to do. The hazard taken by the accused doctor should be of such a nature that the injury which resulted was most likely imminent.”

Justice Deepak Gupta and Hemant Gupta from this bench, observed that this was mere negligence, and referring to the Jacob Matthew v. State of Punjab, did not held the doctor liable. In Jacob Mathew, the Supreme Court had laid down guidelines to govern the prosecution of doctors for offences of which criminal rashness or criminal negligence is an ingredient. It had said:

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A private complaint may not be entertained unless the complainant has produced prima facie evidence before the Court in the form of a credible opinion given by another competent doctor to support the charge of rashness or negligence on the part of the accused doctor.

The investigating officer should, before proceeding against the doctor accused of rash or negligent act or omission, obtain an independent and competent medical opinion preferably from a doctor in government service qualified in that branch of medical practice who can normally be expected to give an impartial and unbiased opinion applying Bolam’s test to the facts collected in the investigation.

A doctor accused of rashness or negligence, may not be arrested in a routine manner (simply because a charge has been levelled against him). Unless his arrest is necessary for furthering the investigation or for collecting evidence or unless the investigation officer feels satisfied that the doctor proceeded against would not make himself available to face the prosecution unless arrested, the arrest may be withheld.