The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Court posers on errant doctors

New Delhi, Sept. 27: Wondering aloud whether there was any procedure to disqualify errant doctors, the Supreme Court today sent a list of questions to the Medical Council of India and sought a reply within two weeks.

A division bench of Justice Ruma Pal and Justice Arijit Pasayat directed the MCI to state on affidavit:

n Whether any time limit exists for MCI to refer complaints (against doctors for negligence) to the respective state councils;

n Whether any procedure has been prescribed for removing the name of a doctor from the MCI register other than on the report of the state government under Section 24 of the MCI Act;

n Whether MCI has omitted/deleted registration of medical practitioners who are not registered in any state council;

n Whether there is any procedure to deal with the default of the state medical councils to comply with the time limit under government notification (fixing a time limit of action against an errant doctor at six months);

n What steps have been taken so far on pending complaints.

As arguments in the public interest litigation filed by Moloy Ganguly — brother-in-law of NRI doctor Kunal Saha whose wife Anuradha died after treatment in a Calcutta hospital — went back and forth, Justice Ruma Pal wondered whether at all “we have any procedure” to deal with negligent doctors.

When Justice Pal pointedly asked MCI counsel Kirit Rawal if there was any time limit to deal with a complaint, he replied in the negative. But the counsel for the petitioner, Avik Datta, showed the court a government notification fixing a six-month time frame. Rawal, who is the additional solicitor-general, then sought time to get back to his client and file an affidavit.

The judge said: “Where there is a right there is a remedy. But in this case, there is a right, but there seems to be no remedy at all.”

The public interest litigation was filed after Anuradha Saha died following treatment in Calcutta during a visit to the city. Three doctors in the city, Sukumar Mukherjee, B.N. Haldar and Abani Roy Choudhury, were named as accused. While Roy Choudhury was acquitted by the trial court, the other two were sentenced to three months’ imprisonment and a fine of Rs 3,000 each. They have appealed against their conviction in the Calcutta sessions court. (See Metro)

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