Compliance of Section 197 CrPC is mandatory before initiating prosecution against public servant

Chhattisgarh High Court: A Medical Camp was held on 8.11.2014 at Pendri, Sakri conducted under the National Family Planning Programme for sterilization of women. The petitioner was posted as a Surgical Specialist at District Hospital, Bilaspur. The camp at the venue was to be conducted in three rooms of which one was converted into a room for operating the patients and the petitioner was one of the doctor allotted duty for performing operations.

After the operations, the patients were taken into the recovery room and provided particular tablets, and instructed in respect of the medicines to be taken and all the patients were discharged. However, after all the patients reached their respective home and immediately after consuming the tablets which were provided for recovery, started getting unwell and in due course of time 12 of the ladies who underwent sterilization operation on the said date died and a few had to go through long process of medication.

In this regard, an FIR was lodged in which petitioner was named as accused and accordingly, charge-sheet was filed under Sections 304-II, 308 and 34  IPC and the matter was put to trial before the Sessions Court i.e. the Court of Special Judge, SC &ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, Bilaspur. The petitioner has sought the quashment of proceedings against him in Trial Court under Section 482 CrPC before the Court.

Counsel for the petitioner submitted that there was no ingredient whatsoever available which are required for making out an offence under Section 304-II or, for that matter, Section 308  IPC. It was further contended that the petitioner was just made a scapegoat in the entire episode without there being any material whatsoever to implicate him. Though the post-mortem report showed that the deceased/s died due to septicaemia but the same was not confirmed from the biological report, the counsel submitted. It was also the contention of the petitioner that the ladies got unwell not after the surgery, but after consuming the medicines given to them stating that the FIR was filed against the petitioner after the hue and cry caused by media over the issue. The legal ground taken by the petitioner was that it was mandatory for the authorities to have obtained previous sanction before initiating criminal prosecution against a public servant particularly in connection with an offence which is alleged to have occurred in discharge of its official duties.

Counsel for the State took the Court through the statements which were recorded during the course of investigation where they have categorically stated in respect of the unhygienic, unhealthy and unsafe conditions under which the ladies had undergone the operation and further submitted that the nature of the act committed by the petitioner was so serious that its gravity alone is to be taken as sufficient ground for rejection of the present petition.

The Court observed that S. 197 CrPC clearly indicates that the provision is mandatorily applicable to all those persons who is or was a public servant at the time of commission of the offence and referred to State of Orissa v. Ganesh Chandra Jew,  (2004) 8 SCC 40. The Court concluded that he entire prosecution initiated by the State is bad in law on account of the non-compliance of the mandatory requirement under Section 197 CrPC was bad in law stating that letting the petitioner undergo the trauma of trial at this point would be miscarriage of justice and abuse of process of law. Accordingly, the petition was allowed and the proceedings against doctor  quashed. [Dr. R.K. Gupta v. State of Chhattisgarh, 2017 SCC OnLine Chh 198, decided on 15.02.2017]

 

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