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Pvt practice by govt docs not a criminal or graft offence: SC

The apex court said if doctors resort to private practice, they can at the most be proceeded only under service and disciplinary rules but not against the anti-graft law or Section 168 IPC.



New Delhi: Government doctors engaged in
private practice cannot be prosecuted under the Prevention of
Corruption Act (PCA) or any other criminal law, the Supreme
Court has ruled.

A bench of justices Markandeya Katju and Gyan Sudha
Mishra in a judgement quashed the FIR registered against two
Punjab government doctors by the state government for
allegedly indulging in private practice despite service rules
prohibiting it.

The apex court said if doctors resort to private
practice, they can at the most be proceeded only under service
and disciplinary rules but not against the anti-graft law or
Section 168 IPC which prohibits government officials from
being engaged in unlawful trade.

The FIR was registered on April 9, 2003, against the
two doctors Rajinder Singh Chawla and Kanwarjit Singh Kakkar
under Sections 13(1)(d),13(2)of the Prevention of Corruption
Act (PCA) and IPC Section 168 Ludhiana Vigilance on the basis
of a complaint by Raman Kumar alleging they were engaged in
private practice charging Rs 100 as fees from patients.

"We find no difficulty in accepting the submission and
endorsing the view that the demand/receipt of fee while doing
private practice by itself cannot be held to be an illegal
gratification as the same obviously is the amount charged
towards professional remuneration.

"It would be preposterous in our view to hold that if
a doctor charges fee for extending medical help and is doing
that by way of his professional duty, the same would amount to
illegal gratification as that would be even against plain
common sense," Justices Gyan Sudha writing the judgement said.

PTI

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