They had allegedly tampered with the attendance record of another doctor

The Madras High Court Bench in Madurai has directed the Health Secretary to initiate departmental action against Muthukumaran, former Head of the Department of Anaesthesia and R. Thenmozhi, a chief doctor at the same department at Thanjavur Government Medical College for having allegedly tampered with the attendance records of another doctor.

Allowing a writ petition by the victim doctor Ramesh Babu, Justice S. Manikumar directed the High Court Registry to forward a copy of his order to the Health Secretary for appropriate action against the two doctors who were continuing to serve in the hospital despite the filing of a charge sheet against them for the alleged offences of indulging in forgery and manipulation of records.

The judge pointed out that the petitioner had joined the post graduate diploma course in anaesthesia at the Thanjavur Medical College for the academic year 2007-09. In March 2009, the Tamil Nadu Dr. MGR Medical University did not issue him a hall ticket to write the final year examinations citing lack of requisite attendance.

Enquiries made by him revealed that his superiors had tampered with the attendance records and had also not forwarded a leave letter submitted by him, during the period of illness, to the authorities concerned. Immediately, he lodged a complaint with the Thanjavur Medical College Hospital police station.

The police registered a case under Sections 465 (forgery), 466 (forgery of public register) and 167 (public servant framing an incorrect document with intent to cause injury) of the Indian Penal Code. After making enquiries with the college Dean and others, a charge sheet was also laid against the two doctors. But the proceedings in the case were stayed by the High Court following a criminal revision petition filed by the duo.

In the meantime, Dr. Babu filed the present writ petition in the High Court in March 2009 and obtained an interim order to write the examination. However, declaration of results was withheld until the disposal of the case. After that, the petition was listed for final hearing only now after a delay of about three years and five months.

Shocked over the failure of the medical college to inform about the registration of criminal case against two of its doctors to the medical university, the judge said that the duo ought to have been subjected to departmental action as the stay on the criminal proceedings could not be a bar for the government to initiate disciplinary proceedings.

"The authorities, themselves being doctors, have failed to perceive the agony undergone for all these years by another doctor, a budding anaesthetist... Had he been permitted to take up the examination in the normal course, his prospects would have been better... He would have even pursued higher education," the judge said and ordered declaration of his results forthwith.