Mumbai: The Maharashtra government on Tuesday took a U-Turn on the issue of constituting a dedicated special cell to oversee medical negligence complaints against doctors so as to protect the fraternity from unnecessary harassment. The state told the Bombay High Court bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish Kulkarni that a Government Resolution (GR) issued a decade ago in March 2010, provides for district level committees of expert doctors to protect them from being named in bogus cases of medical negligence.
The bench was hearing a PIL filed by Dr Rajeev Joshi from Pune, highlighting the rise in number of assaults on doctors and even the hike in the cases of medical negligence registered against doctors at the behest of the relatives of the patients.
Notably, in the previous hearing, advocate general Ashutosh Kumbhakoni had told the bench that the state was mulling to constitute a special cell that would first verify the complaints of medical negligence and accordingly recommend whether in a given case an FIR is mandated or not.
On Tuesday, when the matter was called out, AG Kumbhakoni pointed out that the director general police has 'prima facie' opined that there is no need to have a separate cell as such.
"The police department has brought to my notice a GR issued way back in March 2010. This GR provides for an experts panel of expert doctors at every district. Thus, the DGP was of the prima facie view that there's no need for a separate cell," Kumbhakoni told the judges.
Having noted the submission, chief justice Datta sought to know if these district level committees were functional. "I will have to check that," the advocate general responded to which CJ Datta said, "But our experience is a bit more bitter."
However, after going through the GR the judges too opined that "with this mechanism a special cell won't be needed."
As far as the laws pertaining to protection of doctors from being booked in such frivolous cases is concerned the state said it would consider amending the existing norms for providing a better environment to the doctors.
"You (state) can enhance the existing laws," the chief justice said, adding, "If you are concerned with the subjects you govern, you have to take proactive steps."
During the hearing, advocate Nitin Deshpande appearing for Joshi and the Indian Medical Association, Pune pointed out that the laws in Bengal for protection of doctors are much better and take care of all the stakeholders. He pressed in for Bengal-like provision of setting up dedicated tribunals dealing with complaints of medical negligence against doctors.
"We leave it to the wisdom of the state government. Let it take a final call on the issue," chief justice Datta said while adjourning the case. The bench said it would pass a detailed order on the issue, which would be made available later.