PUNE: A sessions court here on Thursday granted anticipatory bail to five doctors in a separate case of alleged medical negligence, observing that the non-bailable offence of culpable homicide not amounting to murder under Section 304 (II) of IPC cannot be attracted at this stage.
"The applicants are doctors by profession having no intention to cause death," additional sessions judge Mangala Dhote said.
Citing various Supreme Court rulings, the judge observed, "I come to the conclusion that, at the most, the negligence under Section 304A (a bailable offence) can be attributed in the case of these five doctors."
Judge Dhote also observed, "The question is whether it is a case of negligence attracting Section 304A or goes further to attract Section 304 is a debatable matter, which has to be decided at the trial."
A woman (name withheld) was admitted to a hospital at Morwadi near Pimpri on May 4, 2016 for removal of a cyst from the right side of breast. A team of doctors performed the surgery the same day and she was shifted to ICU. Post-surgery, her blood pressure shot up and kept fluctuating. She died of a haemorrhage around 4am on May 5, 2016.
Her husband, a police inspector posted in Nagpur, lodged an FIR with the Bhosari police on December 21, 2016, accusing the doctors of culpable homicide under Section 304 (II).
This was after the Sassoon Hospital's expert panel submitted a report stating the death of the patient occurred due to negligence and rashness on the part of the applicants (doctors).
The complainant alleged that the woman was not rendered proper post-operation medical care and treatment, which resulted in her death. He alleged that the doctors were negligent in their duty and did not care for the life of the patient.
The five doctors named in the FIR had since moved an anticipatory bail application through their lawyer Vikas Dhage-Patil, arguing that they had been falsely implicated in the case and that Section 304 (II) was not applicable to it.
The prosecution opposed their plea, arguing that the Sassoon Hospital's expert panel report clearly showed that there was negligence on the part of the applicants and, prima facie, a case was made out under Section 304 (II).
The prosecution pointed out that an urgent surgery on the patient was not required and that, despite her high blood pressure, the doctors proceeded to perform the surgery and the anaesthesia given to her was not monitored by the anaesthetist.
Dhage-Patil had countered that a simple lack of care, an error of judgment or an accident is not the proof of negligence on the part of the medical professionals.
Judge Dhote observed that the ingredients of Section 304 (II), which requires prior knowledge about an act causing death, were not present.
"The case in my hand does not show that the applicants had knowledge or they had intention of causing death of the patient. The FIR is silent in this regard and so does the entire case papers," the judge said.
The court ruled that the five doctors, in the event of their arrest, be released on bail against a personal release bond of Rs 25,000 each and one solvent surety in the like amount.