New Delhi: The Supreme Court has set aside a Bombay High Court judgement upholding the conviction of Mumbai-based oncologist PB Desai for not taking due care of a terminally-ill wife of an IAS officer nearly 24 years ago.
Desai was held guilty and sentenced to suffer simple imprisonment for a day till rising of the court and to pay Rs 50,000 compensation to the husband of the deceased or undergo three months jail term by a Mumbai trial judge in 2011 under section 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) of the IPC.
The verdict was upheld by the Bombay High Court and it led to an appeal in the apex court.
"We have no option but to conclude that though the conduct of the appellant constituted not only professional misconduct for which adequate penalty has been meted out to him by the Medical Council and the negligence on his part also amounts to actionable wrong in tort, it does not transcend into criminal liability, and in no case makes him liable for offence under Section 338 of the IPC as the ingredients of that provision have not been satisfied.
"We, therefore, allow this appeal and set aside the impugned judgements of the courts below," a bench of justices A K Patnaik and A K Sikri said.
The apex court said though Desai`s act of not performing the surgery himself and remaining absent from the operation theatre was an "act of negligence", the omission was not of a kind which had given rise to "criminal liability".
Desai was held guilty for not taking personal care of Leela Singhi by not performing Exploratory Laparotomy (surgery) himself upon her.