Medical Negligence: Karnataka HC Quashes Criminal Case Against ENT Surgeon

Medical Negligence: Karnataka HC Quashes Criminal Case Against ENT Surgeon

The Karnataka High Court by an order dated May 31, quashed and set aside an order passed by the Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC) at Sagara, taking cognizance of a complaint filed by a patient against an ENT surgeon, alleging medical negligence.

Justice Alok Aradhe allowed the plea filed by Dr Prabhakar who sought to quash the proceedings on grounds that no expert opinion was taken before taking cognizance as is prescribed in cases against medical professionals. Secondly that the complaint was filed well beyond the limitation period of one year.

The bench in it's order noted that the SC directions in the case of Martin F D'Souza in 2009 had not been followed. The opinion of an expert doctor/committee on the issue must precede taking cognizance and issuing a notice to any medical practitioner in a medical negligence case.

Further, it said "Admittedly the impugned order in the case is passed has been passed in violation of the law laid down by the Supreme Court. Besides that, the complaint filed by the respondent is barred by limitation. As the same has been filed beyond the period of one year. The continuance of proceedings against the petitioner in the fact situation of the case amounts to abuse of process of law, which is not permissible in law. "

A chronic tobacco chewer, Sigbathulla was experiencing difficulty while opening his mouth and had consulted Dr Prabhakar on March 6, 2013. Prabhakar treated him from March 6 to 19, 2013. However, on March 19, the same year owing to side effects of the medicine, there was puss formation in Sigbathulla's back jaw.

On March 5, 2016, Sigbathulla filed a complaint before the JMFC court seeking action against Prabhakar under sections 284 and 326 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means) of the IPC. Prabhakar challenged the complaint before a sessions court in Shivamogga. On February 25, 2017, the court quashed the complaint under section 326 but took cognizance under section 284. Thus he approached the high court.

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