The Allahabad High Court, on Wednesday, granted bail to Dr. Kafeel Khan, who was arrested by UP Police in connection with the Gorakhpur BRD medical college tragedy where scores of children died last year due to lack of oxygen.
Justice Yashwant Varma opined that there existed no material on record to establish charges of medical negligence against Dr. Khan individually. It further noted that no enquiry, as mandated by the Supreme Court in the case of Jacob Mathews v. State of Punjab, was carried out.
More than 60 children, mostly infants, had breathed their last at the BRD Medical College, Gorakhpur within a week in August, 2017. It was then alleged that the deaths had occurred due to disruption in oxygen supply over unpaid bills to the vendor.
Subsequently, the committee under U.P. Chief Secretary Rajive Kumar probing the incident recommended initiating criminal action against the then Principal of the Medical College Dr. Rajiv Mishra, HoD Anesthesia Pediatric Department Dr. Satish, in-charge of 100-bed AES ward Dr. Khan and Pushpa Sales Pvt. Ltd., which supplied oxygen to the hospital.
Despite being hailed as a hero for arranging cylinders as children gasped for breath, Dr. Khan was charged under Sections 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant, or by banker, merchant or agent), 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code. It was alleged that he was negligent in his duties, which resulted in a shortage of medical oxygen.
After almost 7 months of being in custody, he has now been granted bail, with the Court noting, "The applicant has admittedly been in custody for the last 7 months. Learned AGA states that no aspect of the investigation remains outstanding. This clearly obviates the need for the continued custody of the applicant. The State in its affidavit also does not refer to any evidence which may establish or even tend to indicate that the applicant has tried to influence witnesses or to tamper with the evidence. The applicant admittedly is a medical practitioner, a government employee with no prior criminal history. The Court also takes note of his medical condition as brought on record by way of affidavit."