The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Doctor arrest attack on police
- Minister reminds force of CM order

Calcutta, Sept. 18: Health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra today hauled up police for flouting the instructions of the home (police) department and arresting doctors on grounds of medical negligence.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who also holds the home portfolio, has been repeatedly saying at open forums ' the last being on Doctors' Day on July 1 ' that doctors could only be arrested if a medical board found them guilty of negligence.

Yet, a surgeon was arrested on suspicion of negligence 10 days ago and is still in judicial custody.

'The police department has been given clear instructions by the chief minister and also the home (police) department that doctors cannot be arrested on grounds of medical negligence. They can only be arrested if it is a case of murder, for instance the murder of Chandan Sen of Ranaghat,' Mishra said during a scientific seminar organised by the Bengal branch of the Indian Medical Association.

'They (police) cannot get away with this and I will speak to the concerned authorities on this issue soon,' the minister added.

ENT surgeon Deb Narayan Sur was arrested on charges of medical negligence leading to the death of a patient on September 8 at a private nursing home in Baranagar.

'The most surprising part in the entire case is that the patient died before Sur could carry out his surgery. The police, however, refused to listen to any plea,' alleged Moloy Patra, secretary of the Bengal branch of the Indian Medical Association.

Sur was produced in court the following day and remanded in police custody for three days. On September 12, he was produced again and sent to judicial custody for 10 days.

'Since then he has been rotting in jail. We have, however, decided to take this issue head-on with the government,' said Patra.

On Monday, a huge IMA delegation led by Patra and IMA national president P.V. George will meet Bhattacharjee.

'We have to put an end to this nonsense. How can the police know without expert opinion that a doctor could be guilty of medical negligence' asked Patra.

George said the IMA headquarters have received repeated complaints about police harassment and they have decided to take up the issue with the government.

Mishra said the government has decided that only a competent authority like the Medical Council of India and the IMA can decide whether a doctor can be charged with negligence.

He urged the IMA to mobilise opinion and take more quick action whenever such a situation arises. 'You must inform us (the government) the moment such a thing happens. Once a doctor is produced in court, it becomes very difficult for us to retrieve the situation,' said Mishra.

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