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HomeLegal NewsAfter 40 years, Citing age HC refuses to send surgeon to jail...

After 40 years, Citing age HC refuses to send surgeon to jail after being convicted

Mumbai: A single judge bench of justice Bharati Dangre recently upheld the conviction of specialist cervical surgeon of medical negligence but refused to send him to jail as he is now in his late 70s and fighting cancer. The bench however, imposed a fine of ₹5 lakh on the doctor, of which ₹4.9 lakh will go to the family of the victim. “It would be highly unreasonable and unjust, if a septuagenarian with this medical condition, is sent to jail for undergoing a sentence, as at present he is fighting cancer. He was at one time an acclaimed surgeon and a registrar, lecturer and reader in general surgery in KEM Hospital and whose name features in the list of honorary surgeons at RM Cooper Hospital and definitely does not deserve incarceration in the twilight years of his life and particularly when he himself is suffering from precarious ailments,” said justice Dangre, while rejecting the state government’s plea to send him to jail. The case is 40 years old when a 30-year-old man was being operated by the surgeon at his Dadar hospital for sweaty palms. During the surgery, one of his nerves was damaged and that resulted in severe complications. Hours later the patient who was in the business of automotive and tractor spare parts, was shifted to KEM Hospital where he died three days later.

A metropolitan magistrate court at Mazgaon had held the surgeon guilty of causing death by negligence under section 304A of the Indian Penal Code but had not sentenced him to jail. The magistrate had only imposed a fine of ₹5,000. While the surgeon had challenged his conviction, the state government and the father of the deceased patient had also approached high court, seeking imprisonment of the doctor for an appropriate term. The magistrate court had held the surgeon guilty of negligence primarily because he failed to inform either of the relatives or nearest friends of the patient and he had not taken precautions required before the surgery and had not carried out preliminary tests before the operation.

Though Justice Dangre held the doctor guilty of negligence, she refused to agree with the magistrate’s two main conclusions. The bench, however, agreed with the magistrate court on the point of delay in shifting the patient for emergency treatment after the nerve damage was noticed. In this regard, HC said that despite noticing that complications had arisen the surgeon did not take necessary measures to deal with the same and rather continued with the conservative treatment.