The Madras High Court Bench here on Friday expressed its anguish over the State having filed an appeal challenging the acquittal of two doctors by a trial court from the charge of murder in a case of death due to alleged medical negligence.

Dismissing the appeal filed by Kanyakumari District Crime Branch in 2005, Justices M. Jaichandren and S. Nagamuthu said it was “very unfortunate” that the police had registered a case against the doctors, Y. Ajith and Y. Ashok, merely because the patient’s relatives indulged in arson after his death on October 8, 2000. “In this case, two qualified doctors have been unnecessarily dragged to the court portraying them as murderers. We are able to perceive the damage caused to their professional career. Their houses and hospital were set on fire… Thus, they have lost their properties also. This unnecessary litigation could have been avoided if the police officers had been sensitive to the real issues involved without getting swayed by commotion of the relatives of the deceased. If prosecutions are launched against doctors in such a recalcitrant manner, that too, for the charge of murder, then, it will send a wrong signal to the professionals and in turn amount to doing disservice to the society,” the judges said.

At the same time, sounding a word of caution, they said: “For a moment, we like to clarify that we do not suggest for undue sympathy towards the doctors. We only say that the doctors could be prosecuted only if there were sufficient materials to do so.

“However, in the case on hand, the professional career of two doctors has been spoiled, for no fault on their part, by dragging them to the court and they have been put to intolerable agony. We hope that in future, the police officers faced with similar situations will investigate the case objectively and act according to law going by the truth and not by emotions.”

Writing the judgement, Mr. Justice Nagamuthu also said: “Being an accused in a criminal case is an everlasting stigma having greater implications in personal as well as public life of the doctors.”

Though the complainants in the present case had accused the two doctors of having operated the patient Murugan for hernia without possessing expertise in conducting such surgeries, the judges perused the records and found that the claim was far from truth.

They pointed out that there was sufficient medical evidence to prove that the doctors had conducted only a simple surgical procedure for Lipoma Excision to remove a tissue tumour and the patient had died subsequently of heart attack as he was suffering from cardiac problem for long.

Stating that no evidence had been adduced before the court to prove that the heart attack had, at least, a remote connection with the surgical procedure conducted, the judges observed that the doctors could not be held liable for such a death.