Kerala High Court: K.Haripal, J., granted bail to the Police Officer accused of manhandling a doctor and subjecting him to violence. The Bench, though, stated,
“It is quite unfortunate that in spite of attending the duties in most diligent manner, they (doctors) have to suffer such indignation which go to the extent of suffering physical and verbal assault.”
The facts of the case were such that an FIR was registered under Sections 341, 294(b), 323, 332 read with 34 of the Penal Code,1860 and Sections 3 and 4 of the Kerala Healthcare Service Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage to Property) Act, 2012, against the petitioner-a civil Police officer for man handling a doctor. The case of the complainant doctor- Dr. Rahul Mathew was that he had been on night duty on 13-05-2021, when at about 04.15 A.M., a lady by name Laly was taken to the casualty for treatment. As it was reported that she was tested covid positive and was undergoing quarantine, though the complainant had rushed to the patient even without being in PPE kit; taking into consideration the urgency of the matter, but unfortunately, by the time he reached to the patient, she had died.
Alleging that there was delay in attending the deceased, the petitioner-son of the deceased abused the complainant and tried to manhandle him. Later, at about 7.30 A.M., two persons entered the complainant’s room, abused him, caught hold of his neck and slapped him. The complainant contended that the patient had died due to Covid complications. Even though her oxygen level was low, she was not taken to hospital on time.
On the other hand, the case of the petitioner was that the entire incident had happened due to the shock of death of his mother, that his mother did not get prompt medical attention when she was taken to hospital in a breathless condition. It was submitted by the petitioner that even after 10 to 15 minutes of their reaching the hospital, attention was not given; finally only with the help of an acquaintances, who was working as a helper in the hospital, the deceased was given oxygen; and by the time the doctor and nurses came, his mother had died.
Findings of the Court
Opining that, though the incident had happened in an emotionally charged stage, still the action of the petitioners could not be justified, the Bench stated,
“Even if they had a case that there was negligence on the part of the medical officer and hospital staff, that cannot be addressed by showing muscle power and manhandling the doctor in charge.”
The Bench stated that the version of the complainant indicated that on realising the seriousness of the situation, he had rushed to the place where the patient was brought even risking his own life without wearing a PPE kit. Thereafter, he suffered indignation and also physical assault.
“The petitioner is not an ordinary person but is part of the police department, a uniformed force, is expected to show utmost discipline. But he was taking law into his hands and was thrashing the medical officer in his room.”
Considering the above mentioned, the Bench remarked that, “We cannot forget the sacrifices and devotion to the duty exhibited by the medical officers and health staff especially during the trying times when the pandemic condition was at its peak. The worsening situation could be bridled in our State only because of the devoted discharge of duties in a most religious manner by the medical staff. The huge pressure of work in a Government hospital is seen to be believed.”
However, noticing that the petitioner was a Civil Police Officer on probation, who was already under suspension due to his conduct and that the prosecution had no contention that he may flee from justice and will not make himself available for investigation and Trial, if found necessary; the Bench granted pre-arrest bail to the petitioner on condition to execute bond for Rs.50,000.[Abhilash Chandran v. State of Kerala, 2021 SCC OnLine Ker 2649, decided on 25-06-2021]
Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant ahs reported this brief.
Appearance before the Court by:
For the petitioner: Sr. Adv. P.Vijaya Bhanu, Adv. Nirmal V Nair, Adv. P.M.Rafiq, Adv. Manu Tom and Adv. Sruthy N. Bhat
For the respondents: PP Santosh Peter and Adv. P. Sreekumar