Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Additional District Judge of Khurda Mr. Manoranjan Pattanayak has called for case records to see if Dr. P.C. Panda, Head of Surgery Department and Dr. B.C. Kar, his associate and Specialist in Surgery in the prestigious Capital Hospital, Bhubaneswar could be enlarged on bail from the jail custody they are remanded to by the City’s Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate on 26 may 2006. Both of them were caught red-handed by Vigilance sleuths while looting an indoor patient in the guise of fees.

The matter is horrific. It reveals to what extent doctors may go in playing havoc with human life.

A 24 years old lady patient Ms. Truptirani Pati was operated upon on 25 May 2006 by both the doctors for appendicitis, her sister Prativa and brother Dipak waiting outside the Operation Theater along with their mother Biraja, the widow of Jayanta Pati of Jajpur.

Dr. Panda came out of the OT and asked: have you brought the rest of the money? Dipak begged for a little more time. Pay the rest of the money right now or you shall be responsible for any damage done to your sister, the doctor said. At that time, Trupti was on the operation table and stitches were yet to be taken up. The doctor was hinting at what would happen if his fees are not paid.

Dipak begged him to proceed with stitching as he was going to fetch money from a friend who was willing to lend the rupees. Dr. Panda asserted that till then, the patient won’t be released from the OT and so saying he started for the car waiting in the campus wherein Dr. Kar was waiting for him to go out to conduct operations in private clinics. Dipak handed him over the money but no sooner than he grabbed it, his hands were under the grip of vigilance.

The vigilance trap was laid at the behest of Parliamentarian Mohan Jena who had lent a thousand of Rupees to Dipak after coming to know of their plight. Dipak’s father was a friend of Jena. But the Parliamentarian did not stop there. He prevailed upon the Vigilance authorities to trap the doctor. Accordingly a lady officer of vigilance police had accompanied Prativa in guise of a family friend and had tape recorded Dr. Panda’s version.

Trupti was admitted in the Capital Hospital on 23 May 06. Dr. Panda had demanded Rs.6000.00 for the operation even though as a government doctor he was not entitled to charge this money. The family was nose-led to pay an advance and the rest was to be paid on the day of operation.

Caught while accepting the illegal fees, Dr. Panda and Dr. Kar have of course been remanded to judicial custody. When their appeal comes up next week, they may or may not be enlarged on bail. Everybody knows how delayed is justice in India. It may take a very long time to punish these extortionist doctors, notwithstanding them being witnessed by the vigilance wing. It may so happen that the case may end in their acquittal. This is not impossible in our system.

This is an ailing system.

In this ailing system we have been made to accept that an accused is innocent till proved guilty. Courts are granting bails to accused persons and then the cases are made to limp. As long as the cases continue to be limping, the accused, howsoever terrible he may be, goes on being treated as innocent. Even people who have committed crime against the country have enjoyed and/ or are enjoying high political positions simply because cases against them are limping. And, shamelessly they are asserting that they are not guilty as long as the judiciary has not finally held them to be guilty. Its remedy lies in fixing up specific dates for disposal of the cases where bails are granted, but that is not being done. This is helping the accused in evading punishment while the victim (may be an individual, may be a group or may be the State) continues to suffer. This has made a farce of our justice system. We can reverse the trend if we love our motherland by a simple method.

I am suggesting this method taking the aforesaid two doctors as starting points. If you happen to peruse this article, please cogitate and come forward with your opinion.

In my opinion, if the two doctors are enlarged on bail, they should be debarred from medical practice till they are not declared innocent by the court.

In saying thus, I mean to say that bails should be interpreted as provisional judicial determination that the accused is guilty till proved innocent. It should literally mean that the court which grants the bail has found the accused prima facie guilty; but has granted bail to the accused so that he or she can convince the court that accusation is incorrect. Without this interpretation of bail prosecution has become a farce.

If the two apprehended doctors are debarred from medical practice and their registration as doctors remains suspended till they prove their innocence, the doctors who are eager to prey upon patients would be bound to think twice before indulging in the ghastly act. And, most importantly, a new interpretation of bail as ‘found guilty till proved innocent’ would begin to rectify the judicial malady that has jeopardized the Country.

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