A lockdown court has rejected pre-arrest bail application of a 33-year-old doctor, booked for allegedly sexually assaulting a 44-year-old male Covid-19 patient earlier this month and observed that “considering the heinous and pervert nature of the alleged offence” there was a need for custodial interrogation of the accused. The accused, in his submissions before the court, had said he was falsely implicated in the matter.
“It is pertinent to note here that police officers, doctors, nurses and other persons/ authorities who are fighting against the pandemic of Covid-19 are being treated by the society at large with respect. In such circumstances, I find that there was no reason for the authorities of Wockhardt Hospital to lodge false report against applicant (accused)…” the court said last week.
While the accused, who is in quarantine, is yet to be arrested, his services were terminated from the hospital, police said. On May 2, the Agripada police had registered an FIR based on the complaint of the HR manager of the south Mumbai hospital under sections 377 (unnatural offences), 269 (negligent act likely to spread infection of diseases endangering life) and 270 (malignant act likely to spread infection of diseases endangering life) of the Indian Penal Code. The complaint was registered on the basis of the allegations of the patient undergoing treatment for Covid-19 at the hospital’s ICU.
According to the complaint, the accused doctor had joined the hospital on April 30 and was among the young consultants hired by it after 80 of its staffers were infected by the coronavirus. On May 1, he joined duty at 8 am and was assigned work at the Covid ICU ward. At 10.30 am, the complaint stated, the doctor was informed by the HR manager that a complaint of sexual assault had been filed against him.
The prosecution told the court that the patient had alerted a nurse and submitted a written complaint. As the statement of the patient was yet to be recorded, the prosecution submitted the accused, if granted pre-arrest bail, could attempt to put pressure on the victim.
While statements of the security guard, three doctors and a public relation officer of the hospital were recorded, spot panchnama was also pending, the court was told. The accused’s lawyer submitted that it was not “prudent” for a doctor to commit such an act knowing that the patient was infected with coronavirus. He also told the court that while his client was in quarantine since the incident, he had not been tested for the virus.
Observing that it could not be a ground for granting pre-arrest bail, the court said the accused could approach a hospital in his vicinity and get tested. “Considering the heinous and pervert nature of the alleged offence, I find that custodial interrogation of applicant is necessary for effective investigation in the matter,” the court further stated.
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