Nine years after the death of a child delivered outside the out-patient department (OPD) of Government Multi-Speciality Hospital-16, the district court of Chandigarh on Thursday acquitted four persons arrested in the case after the prosecution failed to provide evidence.
The arrested were OPD attendant Dharma Devi, ward attendant Parkash Rani, student of Diplomate of National Board Deepak Thakur and security guard Maya Devi. They were acquitted of sections 304A (Causing death by negligence), 201 (Causing disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false information to screen offender) and 465 (forgery) of the Indian Penal Code by the Judicial Magistrate First Class court of Jaspreet Singh. Dr Veena Sarna, a doctor of GMSH – 16, then head of the Department of Gynaecology was earlier discharged from the case.
As per the prosecution, an FIR was registered on October 19, 2010, following an inquiry conducted by Capt PS Shergill, then additional deputy commissioner, Chandigarh, and professor Raj Bahadur, then Director of GMCH (Government Medical College and Hospital) Sector 32, Chandigarh. The inquiry was ordered by the Home Secretary cum Secretary Health, Chandigarh administration.
The inquiry found that, Bulbul, a resident of Bihar, visited the GMSH, Sector 16, Chandigarh, on July 21, 2010, while she was in labour. She was made to shuttle from one window to another, and she delivered a child outside the OPD counter in a standing position. The baby’s head hit the floor, which resulted in the infant’s death.
After considering the inquiry report and legal opinion, it was recommended to register an FIR against Maya Devi, Prakash Rani and Dharma Devi for criminal negligence in performing their medical duties, leading to the death of a child. It was also directed to register an FIR against Dr Veena Sarna of GMSH, for destroying material evidence in the form of missing registration card of Bulbul, and also to register FIR against Deepak Thakur for tampering with material evidence in the form of medical record of Bulbul.
Police filed a chargesheet in the court, which accused Dharma Devi of tearing Bulbul’s treatment card. Maya and Prakash allegedly did not allow her into the labour room, whereas Thakur allegedly altered the time of delivery in the register, it said. However, no documentary proof had come on record against Dr Sarna who was non-chargesheeted. The court summoned Dr Veena Sarna in court as an accused as not accepting her being non-chargesheeted by police.
Defence counsel, advocate Rabindra Pandit, argued that Dr Veena Sharma had no involvement in the case and the police non-chargesheeted her based on the statements recorded. The defence counsel then moved a discharge application against Dr Veena Sarna, which was accepted by the court and she was discharged from the case.
During the trial, defence counsels, advocate Rabindra Pandit and advocate Harish Bharadwaj, argued that the case was wrongly planted on the accused persons. It was argued that Dr Deepak Thakur was a student but not of the gynaec department, and was just passing by when the crowd called him out to examine the child. He advised the couple to consult a senior doctor.
They said Prakash Rani, Dharma Devi and Maya Devi had no role in the death of the child, as it was natural delivery. It was also argued that the woman Bulbul was not made a witness in the case by the prosecution and her husband Chhote Lal never appeared in court even after being summoned five times. Police also did not produce the CCTV footage in the Court as it had no evidence.
After hearing the arguments and examining the facts, the court acquitted four persons from the case on Thursday.