A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on May 11 at a special sitting directed the State Police Chief to formulate and evolve sufficient protocols on the manner in which persons in custody — be that accused or otherwise — are to be presented before hospitals or medical professionals as part of criminal justice system or such other.
The Bench comprising Justice Devan Ramacahdnran and Justice Kauser Edappagath also directed the State Police Chief to ensure that enough security is provided to all hospitals to avert any further incidents of attack on doctors, and other health service personnel.
The court reminded the State Police Chief that it was the obligation of the police headed by him to ensure that the hospitals and personnel who were manning the hospitals are adequately and sufficiently protected on a day-to-day basis. It is the fundamental duty of any officer to guard a citizen even at the cost of their own lives.
State Police Chief Anil Kanth and Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) M. R. Ajith Kumar were present online before the court. At a special sitting held yesterday against the backdrop of the murder of Vandana Das, house surgeon at the Kottarakkara Taluk Hospital, the court had directed them to appear before the court.
The court said that protocols would have to be thought of to protect the doctors, healthcare professionals, students, interns and house surgeons and others as otherwise the faith in the system would be eroded. There can be little doubt that the killing of a doctor by a person in custody of police — be that as an accused or in any other person — points strongly to a systemic failure.
The ADGP submitted that though there were protocols regarding the manner in which accused and other persons in custody of the police are presented before the medical professionals/hospitals, they are not up to the requirements as of present times warranted. “Now, a new protocol on the proximity at which the police has to stand would have to be evolved. It will be done at shortest possible,” he said.
The court observed that even the protocols meant for production of accused or persons in the custody of police before Magistrates are extremely wanting, and it is only a matter of providential grace that we have not yet come across a situation where an officer is attacked. The police will have to certainly pull up their socks and put their house in order in a war footing. The lack of protocols or the inefficiency of the same, can never be used as reason to justify another attack.