Gross negligence needed for IPC 304 A: HC relief to doctor blamed for death during DnC
Nagpur: Finding no gross negligence committed by the doctor, the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court has recently set aside the charge sheet and criminal proceedings filed under IPC 304 A against a doctor who performed Dilation and curettage (DNC) procedure on a patient.
A division bench of Justice Z A Haq and Justice Amit B Borkar in the recent order reiterated the Apex Court observation that set a principle clarifying that a medical professional cannot be prosecuted in a criminal proceeding without gross medical negligence and mere error of judgment would not be sufficient for proving criminal liability against a doctor.
Following the same line, the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court in the recent order mentioned, "We are of the opinion that the applicant has not committed gross negligence while providing treatment to the victim. Therefore, we find that the continuation of the proceedings against the applicant would amount to abuse of process of court."
The doctor belonging to the Washim district had been charged for the death of a woman in 2014 during a dilation and curettage (DNC) operation. As per the latest media report by the Indian Express, alleging medical negligence against the doctor, an FIR under Section 304-A (Causing death by negligence) of the IPC had been registered regarding the matter back in 2014.
The FIR stated that the patient died in 2014 because of the medical negligence on the part of the doctor during the surgical procedure. As a result, the woman died due to excessive bleeding, stated the FIR.
However, challenging the charge sheet and proceedings pending before the magistrate, the doctor approached the HC bench last month and the bench comprising of Justice Z A Haq and Justice Amit B Borkar passed an order on the criminal application filed by the 65-years-old doctor.
The counsel for the doctor, advocate Ashish Chavan stated before the HC bench that the doctor was duly registered under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act. He further submitted that the patient died because of her poor condition in which she got admitted to the hospital.
The Court also took note of the report prepared by the civil surgeon of Washim. The report mentioned that curating was done to save the life of the victim and the applicant had not neglected the patient. The report further stated that the patient had died due to hemorrhagic shock.
Indian Express adds that the Court also noted the report of the Inspection Committee of five medical experts. The experts opined that the patient received adequate and proper treatment by the doctor.
After listening to all these contentions, the HC bench referred to the Supreme Court judgment in the Jacob Mathew vs State of Punjab case. The bench noted,
"To attract the criminal liability, it was necessary on the part of the prosecution to bring on record the material of such nature which proves gross negligence on the part of the applicant. Mere error of judgment is not sufficient to attract criminal liability."
Finally disposing of the petition, the court observed,
"There is no allegation against the applicant that the applicant has done something, which the medical professional in the ordinary senses has not done and or failed to do. We are satisfied that the ingredients of offense punishable under Section 304-A of the Indian Penal Code are not fulfilled in the present case."