Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: In the instant appeal, the question before the Court was that whether the appellant can be attributed medical negligence merely because she did not explain to the respondent that at the time of delivery of child, uterus is of size of the child and the tubes get enlarged as well, and go back to their normal size after delivery; and during regress, the tubes are likely to slip thereby exposing chance of further pregnancy. Examining the facts, evidences adduced in the matter and the findings of the Trial Court, Bench of Rekha Mittal, J., held that the lower Courts attributing negligence to the appellant and fastening liability for payment of damages suffer from perversity as the respondent- plaintiff did not adduce any evidence or expert opinion which proves or explains that it not advisable to perform tubectomy along with caesarean section. Therefore it is difficult to sustain the findings of the lower Courts that tubectomy operation failed because of negligence attributable to the doctor. 

As per the facts, during the birth of the respondent-plaintiff’s 4th child, the appellant performed the tubectomy operation. The respondent- plaintiff alleged that she was assured by the appellant that the after tubectomy operation, she will never conceive in future. However, the respondent conceived again. The respondent alleged that had full assurance not been given by the appellant, she would not have undergone tubectomy operation. The respondent claimed that the post- operation pregnancy was due to the professional negligence of the appellant. The respondent further stated that her 5th pregnancy caused a great deal mental agony and mental/bodily pain and sufferings while giving birth to another child. Sumiti Arora appearing for the respondent pointed out the findings of the Trial Court according to which the appellant was found to be negligent because as an expert it was obligatory upon her to advise the respondent-plaintiff to wait for some time more to get the tubectomy operation done. Appearing for the appellant, T.N. Gupta submitted that the respondent did not adduce any evidence to suggest that the appellant was negligent in conducting tubectomy operation simultaneously with delivery of child through caesarean section. It was further argued that there is no medical text/opinion which suggests or supports the theory that tubectomy operation should not have been carried out at the time of delivery or the same was required to be carried out after the delivery.

Perusing the facts of the case, the Court observed the Supreme Court decision in State of Punjab v. Shiv Ram, (2005) 7 SCC 1, wherein the Court, in order to decide the case, referred to certain authoritative texts dealing with percentage of failure of sterilization conducted through different methods. The Court noted that in order to support contentions, the respondent did not refer to any medical text or opinion much less expert opinion of a professional in gynaecology/sterilization that it is not advised to perform tubectomy along with caesarean section. It was further noted that there is no evidence suggesting that sterilization, in the instant case, has failed merely because it was performed at the time of delivery. The Court also took notice of the fact that the respondent had admitted that the operation was conducted properly and there was no negligence on the part of surgeon while performing the operation. Taking a cumulative view of the facts, the Court held that findings of the lower Courts are unsustainable, thereby allowing the instant appeal and set aside the judgment and decrees passed by the lower Courts. [Dr Sushma Chawla v. Jasbir Kaur, 2020 SCC OnLine P&H 1000 , decided on 08-07-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

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]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Rakesh Kumar Jain, J., refused to grant permission to terminate pregnancy of a 14-year minor girl.

The facts of the case are that the petitioner was father of a minor girl of 14 years of age who was raped and an FIR was filed against the accused under Section 6 of the POCSO Act, 2012 and Sections 376(3) and 506 of Penal Code. As soon as pregnancy of the minor came into light the petitioner approached the Court for termination of 28 weeks pregnancy in accordance with the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 wherein permission of Court is required if the pregnancy is of more than 20 weeks. Question before Court was whether if pregnancy of the minor is terminated, there would be danger to life of minor or not. Director, PGIMS Rohtak gave opinion according to which if pregnancy is terminated, there could be grave risk to minor’s life. Accordingly, Court in the instant petition refused to permit termination of pregnancy. Petitioner asked for directions in light of the case of Shewata v. State of Haryana, 2015 SCC OnLine P&H 20442 wherein termination of pregnancy of a girl was rejected but directions were given by Court for the welfare of the girl.

The High Court, therefore, issued directions to the Director, PGIMS Rohtak for the welfare of the minor. Some of the important directions are given here for reference.

  • Direction to admit minor as an indoor patient with a private room.
  • Minor was to be given medicines, food, clothes and other facility and during delivery, minor should be personally monitored by the Head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
  • Authorities of Medical College to ensure privacy and non-discloser of her name to the public.

With the above directions, the petition was disposed of by the Court. [Sikander v. State of Haryana, CWP No.21291 of 2018, decided on 28-08-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Rakesh Kumar Jain, J., refused to grant permission to terminate pregnancy of a 14 year minor girl.

The facts of the case are that the petitioner is a father of a minor girl of 14 years of age who was raped and on that account an FIR was filed against the accused under Section 6 of the POCSO Act, 2012 and Sections 376(3) and 506 of Indian Penal Code. As soon as the pregnancy of the minor came into light, the petitioner approached the Court for termination of 28 weeks pregnancy in accordance with the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 wherein permission of Court is required if the pregnancy is of more than 20 weeks.

Question before Court was whether if pregnancy of the minor is terminated, there would be danger to life of minor or not. Respondent Director, PGIMS Rohtak gave opinion according to which if pregnancy is terminated there could be grave risk to minor’s life. Petitioner even after apprehension of minor’s death pleaded the termination of pregnancy to be carried out. Court after hearing the parties refused to permit termination of pregnancy.

Petitioner asked for directions in light of the case of Shewata v. State of Haryana, 2015 SCC OnLine P&H 20442 wherein termination of pregnancy of a girl was rejected but directions were given by Court for the welfare of the girl. Court, therefore, issued directions to the Director, PGIMS Rohtak for the welfare of the minor. Some of the important directions are given here for reference. Direction to admit minor as an indoor patient with a private room was given. Minor was to be given medicines, food, clothes, and other facility and during delivery, minor should be personally monitored by the Head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Authorities of Medical College were supposed to ensure privacy and non-disclosure of her name to the public. With the above directions, this petition was disposed of. [Sikander v. State of Haryana, CWP No.21291 of 2018, decided on 28-08-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Mukta Gupta, J. allowed a criminal appeal filed against the order of the trial court wherein the appellant was convicted for the offences punishable under Sections 363, 366, 342 and 376 IPC.

The appellant-accused was alleged to have kidnapped the prosecutrix and raped her due to which she became pregnant. It was alleged by the prosecutrix that she was below the age of 16 years in 2012 when she was kidnapped by the appellant. It was the case of the prosecution that the appellant was known to the family of the prosecutrix; he kidnapped her and committed rape on her. The appellant denied the charges. He was, however, convicted by the trial court as aforementioned. Aggrieved thus, the appellant filed the present appeal.

The High Court perused the record and found that according to the medical report, she had sexual intercourse even earlier to the alleged kidnapping. Furthermore, as per the defence witness Onkar Singh, Head Master of the school where the prosecutrix was first admitted, prosecutrix’ date of birth was 1-9-1995. This meant that she was more than 16 years of age at the time of the alleged incident. Therefore, as per the law in force at the time of alleged incident, the prosecutrix was capable of consenting to sexual intercourse. The prosecutrix stated that she came to know of her pregnancy in March 2012; whereas, the medical report proved that the foetus was conceived only in April. In such facts and circumstances, the Court was of the view that the defence taken by the appellant that he was falsely implicated in the case by the father of the prosecutrix on coming to know of her pregnancy was a plausible defence. The case put forth by the complainant-father was held to be a cooked up story. Resultantly, the appeal was allowed; the order impugned was set aside, and the appellant was acquitted of the charges as framed. [Jitender Singh v. State (NCT of Delhi),2018 SCC OnLine Del 10632, dated 17-08-2018]