4 July 2023 7:05 AM GMT
Observing that baseless targeting of doctors is bound to “seriously prejudice” public interest, the Delhi High Court has said that striking off name of such a doctor from the Indian Medical Register “partakes character of a civil death” in view of the individual’s professional career.“While it is true that a medical professional is expected to possess a certain minimum standard...
Observing that baseless targeting of doctors is bound to “seriously prejudice” public interest, the Delhi High Court has said that striking off name of such a doctor from the Indian Medical Register “partakes character of a civil death” in view of the individual’s professional career.
“While it is true that a medical professional is expected to possess a certain minimum standard of competence, failing which he has no justification for dispensing medical treatment, and that conduct which fall short of even that minimum medical standard, or display callous negligence to the welfare of a patient, has to be dealt with severely, it is equally true that the scalpel cannot be wielded by a shaking hand. Baseless targeting of doctors, unmindful of the consequences, is bound, in the ultimate eventuate, to seriously prejudice public interest,” Justice C Hari Shankar added.
The court made the observations while setting aside an order issued in March 2010 by the Ethics Committee of the erstwhile Medical Council of India directing removal of the name of a practising radiologist from the Indian Medical Register temporarily for a period of three months for falsifying records.
The allegation against the medical professional was regarding medical negligence which contributed to the unfortunate death of a woman.
Allowing the plea of the practising radiologist, the court noted that at no stage prior to the passing of the impugned order by the MCI was the professional charged with falsification of records.
Justice Shankar also observed that there was no observation or finding in the impugned order to sustain the conclusion that the practising radiologist had falsified the hospital records.
“There is no reference to the precise record which the petitioner had allegedly falsified. Falsification of records is an extremely serious matter. It partakes of crime, and is coloured by criminal intent. Where the falsification takes place in connection with treatment of a patient, especially where the patient is dead, the seriousness of the misdemeanour increases manifold,” the court said.
It added that a finding of falsification of records cannot be lightly arrived at and that an order regarding the same must be precise and exact, explaining the record which was falsified and the manner in which it was falsified at the time when such falsification took place.
“Prior to arriving at such a finding, the concerned doctor has to be put on notice regarding all these aspects, so that he is in a position to respond,” the court observed.
It added that having found that no allegation of medical negligence could have sustained against the petitioner, the MCI confirmed the allegation of falsification of records which was never raised against him, merely for justifying imposition of punishment on him.
Observing that it is an “extremely unhappy situation”, the court said: “Striking off, from the Indian Medical Register, of the name of a doctor, partakes of the character of a civil death, insofar as the professional career of the doctor is concerned. The familial and societal ramifications of such a decision, which is bound to garner publicity, are also far and wide reaching.”
Title: DR. PRAMOD BATRA v. MEDICAL COUNCIL OF INDIA & ANR.
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Del) 546
Click Here To Read Order