Mumbai: The Bombay High Court bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish Kulkarni on Friday ordered the Maharashtra government to consider constituting a special branch within Maharashtra Police that would only probe cases pertaining to medical negligence. The bench also asked police authorities to be "cautious" while taking action against doctors and to "go slow in registering FIR."
The bench was hearing a PIL filed by Pune-based Dr Rajeev Joshi through advocate Nitin Deshpande that sought guidelines for protection of doctors from attacks by patient’s relatives. The plea also questioned if a doctor could be booked or prosecuted for not giving medicines or drugs that wasn’t available in the market. The bench, on Thursday, had said that a doctor cannot be booked in such cases and had also asked advocate general Ashutosh Kumbhakoni to assist them in deciding this issue.
Kumbhakoni, on Friday, cited before the bench a judgment of a court in England that dealt with medical negligence, and said that a law-abiding citizen, who has lost a family member, usually goes to the police station complaining negligence. "Then there are people who take law in their hands, and vandalise hospitals, and assault doctors," said Kumbhakoni.
"Tell us, what would happen if a doctor is pressurised in the midst of the treatment, and relatives say give only a particular drug. How to handle such a situation?" the judges questioned. The bench sought to know from the advocate general about the number of FIRs lodged against doctors since March. "Position today is different. The police shouldn't act directly. They should be cautious. Unless the investigating officer takes a medical opinion on the issue and he shouldn't proceed," Justice Kulkarni opined.
"We don't want a situation where a doctor is mentally disturbed due to all these issues, and is made to treat patients. We don't want the doctor to be attending the police station and treating patients at the same time," CJ Datta observed.
The judges further opined that medical negligence cases are not usual crimes and thus must be probed by trained people, who have knowledge about the medical field. "The way you (state) have special cells for special crimes like Cyber Cell etc. you need to have special wing for investigating medical negligence cases. We are of the view that this cell can have officers who have experience of both medical and also of laws," the chief justice observed.
The bench accordingly closed the matters for judgment saying, "We will only issue guidelines on when to register an FIR and nothing beyond it."