JAMMU – Divisional Commissioner Jammu, Dr Raghav Langer has issued strict instructions to the Investigating Officers to follow the Standard Operating Procedure(SOP) while dealing with alleged cases of medical negligence as prescribed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in its different Judgments.
ADGP Jammu Zone has been requested to sensitise all Senior Superintendents of Police to ensure following of Standard Operating Procedure in alleged cases of medical negligence to prevent malicious and frivolous prosecutions/complaints against medical professionals.
“To avoid unnecessary harassment, all concerned Police Investigating Officers shall strictly adhere and comply with the guidelines and laws laid down by Supreme Court of India, where a complaint is received against a medical professional alleging commission of criminal rashness or negligence’’, the communiqué reads.
It further stated that on receipt of such a complaint, all Investigating Officers are required to immediately approach the concerned Chief Medical Officer of the district for the constitution of the Medical Board of competent doctors so that an independent opinion can be obtained. Requisite coordination in this regard shall be sought from the District Magistrate concerned.
The Police have been asked to follow the guidelines laid down by the Apex Court with regard to the issue of arrest of medical professionals in letter and spirit by all Investigating Officers, more specifically in cases where a medical professional is a public servant.
There is already a set procedure and guidelines for registration of case/FlR under section 154 Cr.PC by the concerned Police Authorities and the directions for registration of same under section 156 (3) Cr.PC by the Judicial Magistrates.
The Div Com has referred to the landmark judgments passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in cases related to medical negligence titled Jacob Mathew V/s State of Punjab and others reported in (2005) 6 SCC 1 and Martin F.D’Souza V/s Mohd. lshfaq reported in (2009) 3 SCC 1 , Dr VK Jain versus State of Rajasthan & others (2019); wherein the Hon’ble Supreme Court has observed and realized that Doctors have to be protected from frivolous complaints of medical negligence and has laid down certain rules and guidelines.
Reiterating the guidelines, the Police has been asked that a private complaint should not be entertained unless the complainant has produced prima facie evidence before the court in the form of a credible opinion given by another competent doctor to support the charge of rashness or negligence on the part of the accused doctor.
The Investigating Officer should, before proceeding against the doctor accused of rash or negligent act or omission, obtain an independent and competent medical opinion, preferably from a doctor in government service, qualified in that branch of medical practice who can normally be expected to give an impartial opinion applying the Bolam test.
A doctor accused of negligence should not be arrested in a routine manner simply because a charge has been leveled against him. Unless his arrest is necessary for furthering the investigation or for collecting evidence or unless the investigating officer feels satisfied that the doctor proceeded against would not make himself available to face the prosecution unless arrested, the arrest should be withheld.
Moreover, the Director Health Services, Jammu has also been instructed to prominently display the relevant provisions of IPC and Punishments provided in the Act, in all Government Health Institutions of the Jammu Division for information of General Public; especially Sec-504 IPC (Misbehaving with Hospital Staff), Sec-427 IPC (Destruction of Hospital Property), Sec-332 & 333 IPC (Assault on Hospital Staff), Sec-506 IPC (Threatening Hospital Staff) etc.
Various forums had approached the Divisional Commissioner regarding this matter with request to issue guidelines on the subject, especially in view of increasing incidence of such cases.