Criminal Case Quashed: Karnataka High Court comes to rescue of ENT Surgeon
Bengaluru: Allowing the plea of an ENT surgeon, the Karnataka High Court has recently junked a medical negligence case filed against the doctor by a patient much after the limited period of one year. The court quashed the case complying three years delay in lodging the complaint.
The court also cited the failure of a subordinate court to follow norms prescribed by the apex court relating to a case of similar nature filed in 2009.
The present case relates to one patient, a chronic tobacco chewer who was facing trouble in opening his mouth. He visited the ENT surgeon in the year 2013. The surgeon treated him for almost 15 days for his ailment.
However, the patient’s back jaw was soon filled with pus allegedly as a reaction to the medication.
Three years after the alleged side effect of the medicine, in 2016, the patient moved Court of Judicial Magistrate of First Class (JMFC court) seeking action against the surgeon under two different sections of the IPC, Sections 284 which talks about negligent conduct with respect to poisonous substance and Section 326 which deals with voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means.
The doctor challenged the plea filed against him before a Sessions court in Shivamogga.
In 2017, after examination of the case, the court nullified the complaint under the IPC Section 326 but took note under Section 284.
Recently, the case was looked into by Justice Alok Aradhe in the Karnataka High Court. Justice Aradhe noted the delay on the patient's part in lodging a medical negligence complaint against the surgeon. The judge held that the complaint was filed after three years which is well beyond a year’s limitation period.
The HC bench noted
Admittedly, in the instant case, the complaint under Section 200 of Cr.P.C. has been filed beyond the period of one year i.e., on 5.3.2016. Therefore, the same is barred by limitation.
Besides, the high court also noted the failure of the subordinate court to follow rules prescribed by the Supreme Court wherein the opinion of an expert doctor/committee on the issues must precede taking cognizance and issuing a notice to any medical practitioner in a medical negligence case. This direction was given by the apex court in the case in 2009.
Justice Aradhe allowed the plea by the ENT surgeon and quashed the December 23, 2016 order of JMFC court in cognizance under section 284 of IPC against him.
Admittedly, the impugned order in the instant case dated 23.12.2016 has been passed in violation of the law laid down by the Supreme Court. Besides that, the complaint filed by the respondent is barred by limitation as the same has been filed beyond the period of one year i.e., on 5.3.2016. The continuance of proceeding against the petitioner in the fact situation of the case amounts to abuse of process of law, which is not permissible in law. In view of the preceding analysis, the impugned order dated 23.12.2016 taking cognizance of offence under Section 284 of IPC against the petitioner is hereby quashed.