Doctors are the "first line defence of the country" in the fight against Coronavirus, remarked the Tripura High Court while directing the Government to restore the confidence of the Doctors and para-medical staff and all concerned who are sacrificing their lives to fight against the pandemic.
Justice Arindam Lodh observed thus while considering an anticipatory bail plea filed by a person accused of being part of a protest by a group of patients against a doctor. The judge directed the Investigating Officer to record statement of the doctor and to conduct a Test Identification Parade.
Karnajit De, who is Addl. Government Advocate under the Government of Tripura, was charged under Section 323/353/506/34 IPC and Section 3(2) (i) of Epidemic Diseases Amendment Act, 2020 read with Section 3 of the Tripura Medicare Service persons and Medicare Service Institution (Prevention of Violence & damage Property) Act, 2013 for allegedly harassing a woman doctor.
The complaint lodged by the Director of Health Services, Government of Tripura, stated that one Dr. Sangita Chakraborty, who was serving as District Health Officer, was harassed by some patients who abused her in utterly filthy languages and also made some sexually coloured remarks. It was alleged that they even went further and started jointly spitting on her face of and one of them climbed upstairs from where he took some water in his mouth and showered gargled water upon her. Some of the protesters even went further and threatened her and her family with dire consequences once they are out of their quarantine.
While considering his bail plea, the Court, referred to various provisions of the above laws and observed thus:
"Needless to say, Doctors are in the frontline of the battle against Coronavirus pandemic, which has now affected lakhs of people and claimed many lives in the country with further reports that para-medical staff and Doctors getting affected by COVID, the focus has now shifted to those brave souls. Our law makers in their own wisdom and after well thought consideration have described the Doctor, para-medical staff, their associates and the police forces as the frontline warriors for their sincere and devoted dedication and constant fight against the deadly disease engulfed in the entire country. Further, they are the "first line defence of the country" in the fight against Coronavirus. It is even reported that many Doctors and nurses have been complaining of fatigue, dehydration and headache due to grueling schedule as they are to work non-stop for seven to eight hours in one go, without any break. They have always taken all kinds of risk not only on their own shoulders but also upon their family members and even to their kids and their old aged parents. Coming to the present case, the Director of Health Services, Government of Tripura had lodged a serious compliant against some of the patients, who not only had made the Doctors and other staffs vulnerable to the infection which will deprive many patients from their valuable service. They created serious obstacles in treating the COVID patients, who are the mothers of the new born babies and suffering from COVID infections and thus prevented the lady Doctor and her staffs to discharge their official duties smoothly and freely. In my opinion, this kind of acts and commission are not only detrimental to the sentiment, safety and security of the Doctors, the "frontline warriors" of the nation, but also detrimental to the interest of the entire society of our nation as well as of this state. It is not at all tolerable and should not be tolerated for a single moment, and the real offenders are to be booked and punished in accordance with law."
The court further observed that the petitioner being an Advocate is engaged and associated with a Noble profession, and, who, as a representative of the law makers of the State, should be more responsible and dutiful towards the cause of the Doctor and society as a whole. His acts and commissions shall be the example to others. Till now, this Court does not find any specific accusation against the petitioner.
The bench then directed the Investigating Officer to record confessional statement of the victim Dr. Sangita Chakraborty and her supporting staff under Section 164(5) of the Cr. P.C. within 24 hours and to arrange for T.I. parade, if necessary, to identify the real offenders.
The case will be taken up on 5th August 2020.