Negligence case: HC stays suspension of two doctors

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Negligence case: HC stays suspension of two doctors KOLKATA: The Calcutta High Court on Friday stayed for two months the West Bengal Medical Council’s (WBMC)’s decision to suspend the licences of two doctors of Apollo Gleneagles Hospitals for alleged negligence in the February 2017 death of Dankuni resident Sanjay Roy. The HC rapped the council for its inability to explain the need to form a second experts’ committee to reinvestigate allegations against radiologist Usha Goenka and general surgeon Shyamal Sarkar, when the council’s own penal and ethical committee had absolved them of all charges.

Making scathing observations, Justice Shekhar B Saraf in his order said the council had “not been able to explain” why the report of the earlier seven-member panel was scrapped. No explanation, the HC said, had been provided on why a second committee was required to be formed. Also, no legal provisions had been shown to justify the formation of the second committee, it said.

On March 29, the WBMC had suspended the licences of Goenka for a year and that of Sarkar for six months. The court observed that since two individuals’ right to pursue their professional career — which is a fundamental right — had been curbed, it should have been preceded by a procedure that was above question and backed with proper reasons.

The HC said: “Unfortunately, the same has not been done in this particular case. One is unable to understand the reason for the formation of an expert committee in this matter. No reasons have been put forward. This court is of the opinion that the medical council cannot form committees, one after the other, just to come up with the desired result which they might seek.”

The court further said that it was evident from the facts that the doctors were exonerated after a six-month investigation carried out by a seven-member committee formed by the WBMC. No explanation was provided on why the report submitted by this committee was disregarded by the council, which chose to form another expert panel to examine the same charges once again. “Absence of proper reasons leads to a prima facie presumption that the above action was mala fide and not as per the principles established in law,” Justice Saraf observed.

Due to the lawyers’ strike, the two doctors appeared in person while the council was represented by its registrar.

“The court has asked the council to file an affidavit within six weeks stating the grounds on which the two doctors were pronounced guilty. We will be filing the affidavit within the stipulated time,” said WBMC registrar Manas Chakraborti.

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