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Bombay High Court: A Bench of T.V. Nalwade and Mangesh S Patil, JJ., refused to quash a criminal case registered against a Medical Officer (applicant) for an offence punishable under Section 304-A (causing death by negligence) IPC.

Seema (now deceased), who was pregnant at the time relevant, was admitted to the Government Hospital for her delivery. She was admitted at about 8:50 am. The duty time of the applicant (Medical officer of the Hospital) was from 8 am onwards, but he was not present in the hospital. Therefore, Seema was admitted by a nurse and she delivered a child at about 9.10 am. After delivery, Seema suffered bleeding. Realising development of the complications, the nurse informed the applicant on the phone. However, he did not turn up till 10 am, and ultimately Seema passed away. The applicant was booked under Section 304-A on the complaint of Seema’s father.

Represented by Ganesh V. Mohekar, Advocate, the applicant sought quashing of the case. Per contra, S.B. Joshi, Additional Public Prosecutor opposed his application.

As per the High Court, there was sufficient record to infer that Seema’s death occurred due to the applicant’s negligence. Rejecting applicant’s submission that it was anyway a high-risk case due to ‘placenta postrioely low lying’, the Court said: ” In that case also it can be said that it is the duty of the medical officer to remain present and when it is a case of high risk his presence is a must. The record is sufficient for the present purpose to infer that he was never diligent in discharging his duty and on that day due to his negligence Seema died.”

Relying on Jayshree Ujwal Ingole v. State of Maharashtra, (2017) 14 SCC 571, it was held that all the tests to ascertain applicant’s negligence were satisfied. [Dr Ravindra v. State of Maharashtra, 2019 SCC OnLine Bom 616, Order dated 09-04-2019]