Calcutta, March 19: Calcutta High Court today ruled that all three doctors — blamed by Kunal Saha for wife Anuradha’s death — are innocent, overturning a lower court decision.
Saha told The Telegraph that he would contest the verdict in the Supreme Court.
The 103-page verdict, delivered by Justice Gorachand De, in the landmark case gave the doctors’ lobby — under a cloud for the last few years — some cause for cheer.
Justice De refused to entertain Saha’s plea to increase the lower court’s three-month sentence for two of the three doctors (Sukumar Mukherjee and Baidyanath Haldar) and overturn the acquittal of the third (Abani Raychaudhuri).
Anuradha Saha died in May 1998 at Mumbai’s Breach Candy Hospital after a few days of treatment at Calcutta’s Advanced Medical Research Institute under Mukherjee and Haldar and the hospital’s own team of doctors. Raychaudhuri was there in advisory capacity.
Immediately after the death, Saha accused the three doctors of “rash and negligent” treatment, slapping legal cases against them. The Alipore chief judicial magistrate found Mukherjee and Haldar guilty in May 2002 and sentenced them to three months’ jail and fined them Rs 3,000. Raychaudhuri was acquitted.
Overruling that verdict, Justice De said the reasons for death were not proved “beyond reasonable doubt” as no post-mortem was done. He, therefore, concluded that it could not be said with any degree of certainty that the three doctors’ treatment had led to the death.
Citing from material he had — that attending nurses at AMRI were not allowed to administer medicine (Saha did that himself) and that a post-mortem was not sought — the judge said Saha, himself a doctor, had “interfered with the three doctors’ treatment at every step”.
Convicting the three would be dealing a body blow to the practice of physicians foregoing chemical diagnosis and treating patients on the basis of their “clinical experience” to save crucial time, the judge said.
“This will teach people like Saha, intent on harassing physicians, a lesson,” said Indian Medical Association (headquarters) joint secretary R.D. Dubey.
But Saha, who has pursued the case with rare tenacity, is not throwing in the towel yet.