A sessions court has discharged a doctor booked for allegedly causing the death of a 17-year-old egg donor, Sushma Pandey, in 2010. While discharging Dr Kaushal Kadam from the case, the court observed that there was no material to frame charges against her under sections invoked by the police, including causing death due to negligence, causing hurt by means of poison and kidnapping.
On August 10, 2010, Pandey was rushed to civic-run Rajawadi Hospital after she complained of abdominal pain, but was declared dead on arrival. This was three days after she had donated her eggs at Bandra-based ‘Rotunda-The Centre for Human Reproduction’ for the third time, in violation of the Assisted Reproductive (Regulations) Bill and Rules as well as the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) guidelines, which has fixed the age for a person donating eggs to be between 18 and 35.
Pandey had undergone egg donation thrice at the centre – on October 22, 2009, February 15, 2010, and August 7, 2010.
Five other doctors and an agent, who signed as Pandey’s guardian on documents at the centre, were booked by the police in the case. Charges in the case are yet to be framed.
Kadam, through her lawyer, had submitted to the court that she was concerned only with the first procedure and had nothing to do with the subsequent operations and hence cannot be connected to the death. It was also submitted that for all the three times routine procedure was followed by the hospital in conducting a verification of Pandey’s age and her willingness. It was claimed that Pandey had submitted that her name was Sushma Pramod Dubey, aged 20, and she had consented to the donation.
Kadam also submitted that after the first procedure Pandey was discharged on the same day.
“…there is discharge card on the record in the chargesheet which shows that after operation on October 22, 2009, on the same day deceased Sushma was discharged. It goes to show that on that day, nothing wrong happened in the said operation,” the court said.
The court also considered three separate reports submitted by three panels of doctors set up to ascertain Pandey’s cause of death. The court said that while the first report, submitted in 2012, states that the first procedure was conducted on Pandey when she was 16, despite knowledge of her age, the statement of the laboratory director at the centre states that Pandey had brought a PAN card showing her age to be 20. “Therefore, for this suppression of age, applicant (Kadam) cannot be blamed or held liable,” the court said.
The court also said that the second report submitted on April 17, 2013, shows that Pandey’s death was caused because of complication of the process of egg donation.
The court, however, held that Kadam was related only with the first donation procedure in 2009, when Pandey was discharged on the same day. “Thereafter, she (Pandey) was alive for near about 10 months. Therefore, the applicant cannot be held liable for the death and this opinion (cause of death due to egg donation) cannot be used against first incident, in which nothing has happened,” the court said, while discharging Kadam in the matter.
The court also held that the third and last report, dated December 12, 2013, states that no evidence suggested medical negligence of doctors at the centre. “It is further observed that before proceeding against a doctor accused of rash or negligent act or omission, investigating
officer should obtain report from the doctor in government service. Here, in the case at hand, and as discussed above, final medical opinion report says that there is no negligence on the part of doctors,” the court said, while observing that there was no material to frame charges against Kadam.