Kerala HC: Issuance of faulty test result from medical laboratory doesn't amount to cheating if no intention to deceive
Ernakulam: Issuance of a faulty test result from an accredited Medical Laboratory will not amount to cheating if there was no intention to deceive, stated the Kerala high court on Wednesday while hearing a petition. The judge, Justice Sophy Thomas was hearing a petition of filed by three employees of Anderson Diagnostics and Labs who sought to quash the proceedings pending against them before...
Ernakulam: Issuance of a faulty test result from an accredited Medical Laboratory will not amount to cheating if there was no intention to deceive, stated the Kerala high court on Wednesday while hearing a petition.
The judge, Justice Sophy Thomas was hearing a petition of filed by three employees of Anderson Diagnostics and Labs who sought to quash the proceedings pending against them before the Judicial First Class Magistrate. As per a media report in the Live Law, the Manager and employees of Anderson Diagnostics and Labs, which is running without any Municipal license, were accused of fraudulently collecting the blood samples of the complainant and his wife, and issuing a faulty result.
Further, one of the petitioner was accused to have criminally intimidated the complainant when the latter questioned them about the faulty result.
The court had given a judgement on the question if the issuance of a faulty test result from an accredited Medical Laboratory would amount to cheating.
However, allowing the petition in part and quashing the proceedings against the petitioners under Section 420 of IPC, the court observed that it could be an offence of cheating only if the person making the false representation knew it was false, and yet intentionally deceived the other party.
It observed, "To bring home the offence of cheating, it must be shown that, at the time of representation being made, it was not only false, but that the person who made such false representation, knew that it was false and with that knowledge, the accused made such representation and thereby induced the party deceived, to deliver the property."
Adding that the concept of deception should exist for the very beginning of the transaction, the court noted, "To constitute cheating, the concept of deception must exist from the very start of the transaction. In order to hold a person guilty of cheating, the intention of a person must be dishonest and there must be mens rea. It has to be shown that his intention was dishonest at time of making a promise. Such intention cannot be inferred from the mere fact that he could not subsequently fulfil the promise. Fraud is proved when it is show that a false representation has been made, knowingly, or without belief in its truth or recklessly, without caring whether it be true or false."
The petitioners represented by Advocate Rajesh P. Nair said that the doctor who was treating the de facto complainant and his wife for infertility referred them for a blood test, and one of the accused collected the blood sample and sent it for testing to their Chennai Lab.
The advocate stated that one of the five test results was found to be reactive to Hepatitis B and this was duly informed to the complainant, who sent it to another lab for a confirmation on the basis of the instruction of the petitioners and the doctor. However, the results were on-reactive when tested from the second lab.
Following this, the complainant is reported to have manhandled the petitioners and demanded compensation for the fault in their test result. The complainant filed a police complaint against the petitioners eventually after around four weeks, since he was not given compensation on the basis of which a complaint was filed against them.
The petitioners had argued that they would not attract the offence of cheating as there was no fraudulent or dishonest intention on the part of the petitioners to deceive the de facto complainant.
The counsel appearing for the state, Public Prosecutor Seena Chandran opposed the petition arguing that the petitioners had no authority to run the lab or the qualification to collect blood samples.
Contending that the petitioners had cheated him, the counsel representing the complainant, Advocates M. Rajendran Nair and M. Santhy argued that the wrong result had caused him much embarrassment and unnecessary treatment, reports the Live Law.
The court observed that "a fraudulent or dishonest inducement is an essential ingredient of the offence under Section 415 IPC. A person who dishonestly induced any person to deliver any property is liable for the offence of cheating."
However, it added, "The de facto complainant has no case that the petitioners induced him to give blood for conducting the test and intentionally misused a faulty result in order to cheat him." Moreover, the complainant was asked to confirm the results before taking follow up treatment, observed the court.
Thus, the judge observed, "So, we cannot say that the petitioners had an intention to cheat the defacto complainant at the time of collecting blood sample or at the time of issuing the test result. If at all a faulty result was issued after conducting blood test of the de facto complainant, the test was done by Anderson Lab at Chennai, and the employees, who only collected and sent the sample to Chennai, cannot be held liable for the test result. The Lab is not made an accused in the final report."
The court also relied on the Chidambaram Chettiar vs Shanmugham AIR 1938 Mad 129 judgement, and noted that "In the offence of cheating, there are two elements.-deception and dishonest inducement to do or omit to do something. Mere dishonesty is not a criminal offence. Moreover, to establish the offence of cheating, the complainant would have to show, not only that he was induced to do or omit to do a certain act, but that this induced omission on his part caused, or was likely to cause him, some harm or damage in body, mind, reputation or property – which are presumed to be the four cardinal assets of humanity."
The court observed that in this case, there was nothing to show that he had undertaken any treatment for Hepatitis-B on the basis of the faulty result. It said that no materials were available to which would reveal that the petitioners had collected the blood sample with an intention of cheating and subsequently, issued an incorrect test result with the mens rea to cheat him.
However, for the alleged offence of criminal intimidation and the allegation of want of license under the Kerala Municipal Act, the matter need to be investigated by taking evidence. The bench observed, "the petitioners have to face the trial for the offences alleged under Section 506 IPC and Section 442 read with Section 543 of the Kerala Municipal Act."
However, the proceedings against the petitioners under Section 420 of IPC was quashed by the court, since "no trace of cheating could be found out in collecting the blood sample or in issuing the test result."
The judgement could be read here.
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