OBSERVING THAT some doctors working with government and charitable trust hospitals, “who do not care for the lives of poor patients”, should not be spared, and that “lives of the poor are more important than employment of doctors”, the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court recently rejected a doctor’s review petition seeking reinstatement after he was dismissed over dereliction of duty that allegedly caused the death of an 11-year-old boy in 2009.
The bench led by Justice Tanaji V Nalawade observed, “These days, some doctors working at government hospitals and trust hospitals have an approach of not caring for the poor. These hospitals are meant mainly for the poor. If such doctors do not show devotion and act this way, they cannot be spared as lives of the poor are more important than the service of such persons.”
Acquittal is not equal to reinstatement
MAINTAINING THAT acquittal in criminal cases need not translate to reinstatement of the doctor, the Bombay High Court said, “The standard of proof in criminal cases is different (from departmental inquiry) and prosecution is required to prove the case beyond all reasonable doubt.” The High Court in 2010 had ruled that if an employee is acquitted of criminal charges, but the departmental inquiry finds him or her guilty of misconduct, then that does not become a reason for reinstatement. The HC also observed that in criminal cases, the prosecution is required to scrupulously establish intention or knowledge of the criminal act of the petitioner. In the departmental inquiry. The court, however, would not be expected to interfere if principles of natural justice were followed.
A division bench of Justice Nalawade and Justice Mangesh S Patil on August 31 made these observations while rejecting a review petition filed by Dnyaneshwar Borade. He was a residential medical officer-on-duty at Shirdi’s Saibaba Hospital, run by Sai Baba Trust, Shirdi, on June 18, 2009, when an 11-year-old boy was brought to the hospital for treatment for a snakebite.
Borade did not admit the boy and transferred him to Sainath Hospital, also run by the same trust without administering anti-venom treatment. The patient was again brought back within one hour to the Saibaba Hospital within an hour, from where Borade referred him to Pravara Hospital in Loni; the child, however, died on the way. Thereafter, a chargesheet was filed against Borade for causing death due to negligence in July 2009 and he was dismissed from service in December 2010, after an inquiry. The sessions court, however, acquitted him in 2012.
The High Court upheld his removal in January 2015, following which he filed a review plea last year, stating that he deserved reinstatement as he had been acquitted.
On August 31, the bench examined material on record produced by an inquiry officer and noted that the boy died due to “dereliction in duty” by Borade.
“It was not just negligence; it was something more than that,” the court noted.
The court also went on to say, “Unless such an approach is taken by the employer and also the court, the conduct of doctors will not improve.”
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