SC Grants Protection From Arrest To Doctor Couple Booked Under S.304 For Medical Negligence [Read Order]

The Supreme Court on Monday granted relief to doctorsDeepa and Sanjeev Pawaskar, who have been booked under Section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the IPC in a case of medical negligence.

The couple moved the apex court once Bombay High Court rejected their anticipatory bail application and Justice SS Jadhav made sharp observations against their professional conduct and held that this was a case of prescription without diagnosis.

A bench of Justice AM Sapre and Justice UU Lalit granted the couple protection from arrest and directed them to co-operate in the investigation process.

Senior Advocates R Basant, Amit Karkhanis and Kapil Joshi appeared on behalf of the petitioners in the Supreme Court.

The couple was booked under S.304 after a patient Dnyananda died after a few days of giving birth following a cesarean operation. Her husband Pranav filed an FIR against the doctor couple who ran the hospital.

The District Civil Surgeon’s report indicated that Dr Deepa Pawaskar had failed in taking due care of her patient and neglected certain symptoms shown by the deceased.

After going through all the material at hand, Justice Jadhav had noted: “Doctors’ failure to exercise the degree of care and skill that a physician or surgeon of the medical specialty would use under similar circumstances would amount to malpractice. An error in diagnosis could be negligence and covered under section 304A of the Indian Penal Code. But this is a case of prescription without diagnosis and therefore, culpable negligence. The element of criminality is introduced not only by a guilty mind but by the practitioner having run a risk of doing something with recklessness and indifference to the consequences. It should be added that this negligence or rashness is gross in nature.”

It was also pointed out in the HC order that once that deceased was unwell 24 hours after her cesarean operation, she should have been referred to another doctor. Not doing the same simply shows the commercial interest the applicants had in re-admitting the deceased to their hospital.

As the high court had granted a stay on the operation of its judgment till August 2, the doctor couple filed a Special Leave Petition before the apex court and got relief.

Read the Order Here