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Forging RTPCR Test Reports: Kerala High Court Grants Bail To Lab-Owner Citing Covid Surge

Lydia Suzanne Thomas
29 May 2021 2:45 PM GMT
Forging RTPCR Test Reports: Kerala High Court Grants Bail To Lab-Owner Citing Covid Surge
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On Friday, the Kerala High Court was faced with the anticipatory bail application by the owner of one Arma Lab and Health that allegedly forged RT-PCR Covid Reports to patients. Allowing bail to the applicant citing the Covid situation, Justice Ashok Menon however noted that the material collected by the investigating officer indicated the complicity of the applicant. "The...

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On Friday, the Kerala High Court was faced with the anticipatory bail application by the owner of one Arma Lab and Health that allegedly forged RT-PCR Covid Reports to patients.

Allowing bail to the applicant citing the Covid situation, Justice Ashok Menon however noted that the material collected by the investigating officer indicated the complicity of the applicant.

"The materials collected so for by the investigating officer do indicate the complicity of the applicant. The accusation is also grave and affects the public health. But taking note of the present pandemic situation, and the need to de-congest the prisons, I find that the applicant need not be subjected to custodial interrogation."

The bail applicant and the staff of his lab were accused of forgery and cheating under Sections 465, 468, 471 and 420 of the Indian Penal Code. The applicant whose laboratory was a collector of samples for Covid testing done at Micro Health Laboratories, Kozhikode, was alleged to have dishonestly induced the public to get tested for Covid at their lab without sending the samples to Micro Lab obtain the lab result. Persons who gave samples, mostly persons who needed to travel abroad, were issued fake certificates under the name of Micro Lab, without any tests being conducted. The Public Relations Director of Micro Lab then proceeded to file a complaint against the applicant.

Shortly after, R-Cell Diagnostic and Research Centre , another private lab, alleged that the applicant was its collecting agent for Covid tests and had given out a negative test report to a person, who was in fact positive. R-Cell averred that when the sample was tested at their facility, the person tested positive and R-Cell had subsequently informed the authorities of this fact.

When the authorities contacted the person, the person informed the authorities that he had received a negative report. After this, the MD of R-Cell also filed a police complaint against the applicant.

In Court, the applicant alleged that the complaints from the two labs were prompted by their fears of action against them for their false reports.

Referring statements by the staff of the lab, the Court noted that there was indication that the applicant was manipulating reports by using the names of accredited labs. The staff had said that the applicant personally took samples collected at the Lab to be sent to Micro Lab. They also stated that only a portion of the samples were sent, though they confessed that they did not know what was done with the samples not sent to Kozhikode.

Additionally, the investigating officer had submitted that the applicant had collected more than 2000 samples, but sent only about 500 of them for testing to the Labs at Kozhikode.

"This is a strong indication that the applicant was manipulating reports by using the names of the accredited Labs", the Court concluded.

However, since the offences alleged against the applicant did not attract more than 7 years punishment, imprisonment was to be resorted to only if essential, the Court pointed out, in view of the Covid situation and the need to decongest prisons. Therefore, the Court deemed it appropriate to allow bail to the applicant.

He was directed to surrender before the investigating officer within one month and upon interrogation and recovery directed to be released on bail on execution of bond for Rs.1,00,000/- (Rupees one lakh only) with two solvent sureties.

CASE: Sunil Sadath v. State Of Kerala

COUNSEL: Senior Advocate P. Vijaya Bhanu, Advocates B. Premod, Pooja Pankaj, Public Prosecutor V. Sreeja

Click here to download the order


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