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Good Faith Card Helps Out Doctor

Cuttack : Doctor of a Government hospital languished behind bar for more than six months for no fault of him has got respite from High Court. In a landmark Judgment Justice S K Panigrahi of Orissa High Court has held that the case of the doctor is meritorious in nature and deserves to be enlarged on bail on the facts and circumstances of the peculiar case as he had discharged his duties on good faith.

While allowing a petition for bail, High Court has directed Additional District and Sessions Judge, Sundargarh to release the doctor on such terms and conditions as deemed just and proper. However, the Court clarified that without being influenced by the observations in present judgment, the trial court shall proceed to arrive at its own conclusion as per law.

Dr. Debasis Ghosh knocked the door of justice who was arrested and thrown in prison as an under trial on the charge of illegal Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) of a minor girl.

The 13years old victim has specifically alleged that one of her boyfriend and stepfather were instrumental in making her pregnant. After she was rescued by Biramitrapur Police, MTP was performed on 15 June 2020 at Biramitrapur CHC. Thereafter the victim has alleged before the child welfare committee that two police men of Biramitrapur police station including the IIC had kept physical relationship with her.

Basing upon the FIR of District Child Protection Officer of Sundargarh a police case was registered which was subsequently handed over to Crime Branch. In this backdrop Dr.Ghosh was arrested and forwarded to Court on 7 July 2020 under different section of IPC, POCSO, MTP and SC-ST (PA) Acts.

From the case record it is revealed that the destitute minor girl was rescued by the IIC from Biramitrapur bus stand area where she was wandering alone. The victim told the police that her parents are staying in Delhi who are working as laborers and she did not want to go to her relatives house as her stepfather had raped her.

The police sent requisition to Biramitrapur CHC for medical investigation and MTP of the victim. A lady police constable was also sent to the hospital in police vehicle along with the victim girl. In this backdrop Dr.Ghosh in good faith conducted MTP on the next day of admission.

As the duration of pregnancy was around 45days as per medical test, in good faith the doctor in charge conducted MTP to save the life and dignity of the victim.

The matter was enquired by an internal committee headed by CDMO, Sundargarh which in its report had stated that there was neither any irregularity nor any illegality in conducting such MTP. However on the basis of the FIR of the CWC, Dr.Ghosh was arrested and his petition for bail was earlier rejected by the Additional District Judge, Sundargarh.

Besides factual aspects to prove his innocence, Dr.Ghosh pleaded before High Court that in good faith he had conducted MTP to save the victim girl. It is also stated that the lady police constable who accompanied the victim has put her signature as caretaker on the relevant form as no other guardian of the victim was available at that point of time.

Going through the facts of the case and arguments from the both the sides and analyzing the provisions of law, Justice Panigrahi has observed that in such case continuance of pregnancy would involved a risk to the life of the minor victim and it could cause grave injury to her physical and mental health.

Following the judicial dictums it is held that in every case where a complaint of rape is lodged and the victim is found to be pregnant and she does not want to retain the fetus, the pregnancy itself may be treated as involving grave mental injury and the medical assistance must be secured to the victim on priority basis.

Relying upon the enquiry conducted by a Board of Doctors, constituted by the CDMO, Sundargarh, the Court observed that the findings of enquiry was in favor of the doctor who had acted in good faith and thus found on the right side of the Golam’s Test.