Kerala Private Hospitals Association Vs. Advocate Sabu P. Joseph
Date of Order:
1st December 2022
Justice Devan Ramachandran and Justice Kauser Edappagath
Petitioner- Kerala Private Hospitals Association
Respondent- Advocate Sabu P. Joseph
The Kerala High Court on Thursday ordered the Police to file a FIR and recognise the assault on physicians and other medical personnel as a crime as soon as they receive the information. After taking into account the rising number of assaults on medical professionals, the court issued the directive.
Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure
- An officer in charge of a police station who receives the information verbally is compelled to reduce it to writing. The informant should then review it before signing.
- A "book of records" that has been authorised by the state administration must be filled with the data collected in this manner.
- A free copy of the information that was recorded must be given to the informant.
- If the officer in charge declines to record it, the harmed party may convey the information to the Superintendent of Police.
- The Superintendent of Police will either undertake the inquiry themselves or provide a subordinate police officer the necessary instructions if they are confident that the cognizable offence has been committed.
- This police officer will have all the authority of an officer in charge of the police station with regard to the applicable offence.
- The testimony provided by a woman must be recorded by a female official or police officer if it relates to any alleged offences under Sections 326-A, 326-B, 354, 354-A to 354-D, 376, 376-A to 376-E, or 509 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
The Court was informed by Senior Advocate Gopakumaran Nair and Advocate K. Anand that since June 2021, there have been over 138 documented attacks on medical professionals.
Time period within which FIRs of attacks against medical professionals is to be registered.
ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE APPELLANT
Counsels on behalf of the petitioners submitted that the number of attacks documented on healthcare professionals is over 138 or so for a period of around a year starting in June 2021.
ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE RESPONDENT
The counsels on behalf of the respondents submitted that the Government has implicitly complied with every directive set forth in the Court's prior rulings, including the creation of Police Outposts in hospitals, and they are ready to consider any additional recommendations made by the Court or any interested parties.
ANALYSIS BY THE COURT
- The Division Bench of Justice Devan Ramachandran and Justice Kauser Edappagath Suo Motu pleaded the State Police Chief and further stated that as a first step, in addition to the earlier directives, they were of the firm opinion that every incident of attack on a doctor or other healthcare professional, including any other hospital staff, be that security or other, will have to be reported to the Station House Officer of the relevant Police Station by the Station House Officer not later than immediately following the incident.
- The court expressed concern over the fact that, despite its instructions, nothing has changed. It claimed that conversations at the bar demonstrated that, in order for true change to occur, the public must be made to feel a feeling of fear of the law. Experience has shown that citizens are more afraid of being apprehended in the event of misconduct or transgression than they are of the law.
- The court said, "Prima facie, it appears that such recurrent events occur because citizens have a perception that the legal system is slow and that they won't be held accountable."
- The court ruled that it needs information from all parties involved, including the government, about the actions taken and what has to be done to safeguard the safety of medical workers.
- However, the court emphasised that, in addition to the preceding directives, it is of the firm opinion that every occurrence of assault on a doctor or other healthcare professional, including any other hospital employees, including security personnel, must be reported not later than an hour after it occurs.
- In order to guarantee that the directives given by the Court are effectively carried out through required circulars or other instructions, the Court suo motu impleaded the State Police Chief as a respondent.
- The court further stated that fast action should be taken following the filing of a FIR, "including to apprehend the Offenders, as and when it demands so, leading to prosecution and such punishment, as the law warrants."
- It additionally asked the government to make sure that the public is informed about the seriousness of the crime of an attack on a hospital or healthcare personnel as well as how this Court intends to handle such offences in the future.
- The discussion of the topic has been postponed until December 16th.
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