[COVID-19] Tri HC | Doctor “spat at and abused” by patients; Court orders for test identification parade to identify the accused person

Tripura High Court: Arindam Lodh, J.,  while terming the doctors as “frontline warriors”, directed the Investigating officer to conduct Test identification parade to ascertain the real offenders responsible for harassing a doctor.

Dr Sangita Chakrobarty was serving as District Health Officer, West Tripura, and was discharging her duties as, in-charge of distribution of COVID-19 patients. Five post-delivery mothers long with their new born babies, who were tested COVID-19 positive, were sent to a COVID Care Centre to ensure maximum safety and were kept under the surveillance of Dr Chakrobarty.

Some of the previously admitted older patients started protesting indiscriminately demanding that they would not allow entry of any new patients in the centre. The protests turned graver shortly and situation worsened. Dr Chakrobarty tried to calm down the protestors, however, they abused her, threw sexually coloured remarks, spat on her face and exhibited more of such uncivilised behaviour. Complaint against these patients was filed by the Director of Health Services, Government of Tripura.

The petitioner was one of the alleged protestors, and therefore, came before the High Court under Section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure for grant of anticipatory bail.

The counsel, Raju Datta, for petitioner argued that the name of the petitioner had not been transpired in the complaint, there was no accusation against him, and on this ground alone, the petitioner should be granted anticipatory bail. High Court raised a question before him, whether mere apprehension of arrest attracts the ingredients of Section 438 of CrPC to which Mr Datta, submitted that mere apprehension of an arrest does not attract the ingredients of Section 438 of CrPC for granting anticipatory bail.

Bench looked into the relevant sections of CrPC. and the Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020, to consider the bail application. He further explained the importance of doctors in society and especially during the time of COVID-19 when doctors have become the “first-line defence of the country”.

Adding to the above, Court labelled the protest which took place as “detrimental to the sentiment, safety and security of the Doctors and the entire society of our nation as well as of this state.” Therefore, keeping in mind the objective of the latest Epidemic Ordinance, he directed the Investigating Officer to record the confessional statement of the victim and her supporting staff under Section 164(5) of the CrPC.

Bench directed the Investigating officer to arrange for Test Identification parade to identify the real offenders. [Karnajit De v. State of Tripura,  2020 SCC OnLine Tri 353, decided on 30-07-2020]

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