Dr KK Aggarwal
Of late, doctors are more and more being criminally prosecuted.
Recently, a doctor from Kochi was charged under section 354 of IPC “Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty” following a complaint from a woman patient “who had come for treatment at around 5.15 pm, stating that it was casualty time” that the accused doctor pushed her (TOI, August 30, 2017).
“354. Whoever assaults or uses criminal force to any woman, intending to outrage or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby outrage her modesty, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.”
In the recent Gorakhpur tragedy, the concerned doctors were suspended. They were also charged under section 308 “Attempt to commit culpable homicide” for administrative lapses.
“308. Whoever does any act with such intention or knowledge and under such circumstances that, if he by that act caused death, he would be guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both; and, if hurt is caused to any person by such act, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, or with fine, or with both. Illustration A, on grave and sudden provocation, fires a pistol at Z, under such circumstances that if he thereby caused death he would be guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder. A has committed the offence defined in this section.”
On the day of sentencing of Ram Rahim, violence claimed the lives of many. Was this not an administrative lapse? But only the DSP was suspended for failing to properly implement section 144 in order to preempt the anticipated violence. But, IPC section 308 was not applied.
In a shocking incident, noted gastroenterologist Dr Deepak Amarapurkar lost his life when he fell into an open manhole while walking on the flooded road during the heavy rains in Mumbai on Tuesday. Such incidents recur every year, especially during monsoons, when open manholes are a threat to the life of unaware pedestrians walking on the waterlogged roads. Is this not negligence? Who should take the blame for this very unfortunate mishap? Will section 308 be applied against a civic body for failing to carry out its duty in maintaining roads with care?
Doctors are vulnerable to being tried under various IPC sections and laws in multiple situations. For instance, in case of hospital acquired infection, the healthcare establishment as well as the doctor can be charged under section 269 of the IPC “Negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life.—Whoever unlawfully or negligently does any act which is, and which he knows or has reason to believe to be, likely to spread the infection of any disease dangerous to life, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine, or with both.”
Doctors are professionals and are bound by the MCI Code of Ethics Regulations. No doctor practices to intentionally harm a patient. If there is a Code of ethics, then why should they be charged under Penal Codes?
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this write up are entirely my own.