Government assures HC to form panel to hear medical negligence cases

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Maharashtra government informed the Bombay High Court that it had already appointed a high-power committee to prepare a draft on constituting an authority, before whom victims of medical negligence can file complaints.

The committee is expected to submit its report soon and thereafter the state would take steps to constitute the authority to look into the cases filed by victims of medical negligence, government pleader Prajakta Shinde told a bench headed by Chief Justice Mohit Shah.

The bench had asked the state on January 17 to form an authority to probe cases of medical negligence. Such a panel would hear the victims of medical negligence and recommend measures to take action against the accused, the judges said.

Under Section 7 of Maharashtra Medicare Service, Persons and Medicare Service Institution (MMSPMSI) Act, establishment of such an authority is mandatory. Hence, the HC asked the state to set up this committee as soon as possible.

The court had also directed Additional Home Secretary (AHS) and Director General of Police (DGP) to issue a circular within two weeks asking the police force to invoke provisions of MMSPMSI Act in cases of assault on doctors.

As the circular is still not distributed to police, the bench gave a stern warning to the State and noted that if such circular is not given to all the police stations in the State within two weeks, the additional home secretary and DGP would have to personally remain present on February 17.

The court was hearing a suo motu (on its own) petition alleging assault by three policemen on a doctor who had refused to attend a woman in labour pains in a government hospital in Solapur town in Maharashtra on December 31.

Following a court directive, the policemen, who had assaulted the doctor, were held under MMSPMSI on January 12.

The policemen were first booked under the IPC for bailable offences and granted bail. However, the court, after viewing CCTV footage of the incident, had directed the government to book the policemen under MMSPMSI Act, under which offences were cognisable and non-bailable.

The Solapur attack had led to a flash strike by 4,000 resident doctors in Maharashtra on January 2. The stir was called off after the policemen surrendered in a Solapur court. The accused policemen had tendered an unconditional apology in the high court through their lawyer for the attack.