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Thursday, August 05, 2004

Criminal liability for medical negligence: a drastic change?

Criminal liability for medical negligence: a drastic change?
by M R Hariharan Nair

Taken from

The Supreme Court declared on August 4, 2004, in Dr Suresh Gupta's Criminal Appeal [Appeal (crl.) 778 of 2004] that to sustain a prosecution for the offence under S. 304A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), and to fix criminal liability on a doctor or surgeon, the standard of negligence required to be proved should be so high that it can be described as 'gross negligence' or 'recklessness', not merely lack of necessary care. On those premises it quashed the criminal proceedings against Dr Gupta before they reached trial in the Magistrate's Court.

Until this judgment came out, a precedent was set by the decision of the Supreme Court dated February 4, 2004, in Mohanan v. Prabha G Nair and another (2004) CPJ 21(SC). In this case, a woman in the seventh month of pregnancy underwent medical intervention and delivered a dead child on the next day. She passed away three days later, while under medical care. The husband alleged in his police complaint that though he repeatedly asked for permission to remove his wife to a medical college hospital, the doctor advised against the shift saying that the patient had no serious problem and that everything would turn out all right. Subsequent events obviously proved otherwise.

Based on the opinion of the radiologist and the doctor who conducted the autopsy, the Criminal Court took cognisance of the offence punishable under S.304A of the IPC. The doctor petitioned to quash the proceedings invoking S. 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code, on the ground that there was no prima facie case. The concerned High Court held that the mere fact that a patient dies in a hospital does not lead to the presumption that the death occurred due to the doctor's negligence. To hold a doctor criminally responsible for a patient's death, it must be established that there was negligence or incompetence on the doctor's part, which went beyond civil liability. Criminal liability would arise only if the doctor did something in disregard to the patient's life and safety.

The Supreme Court, however, set aside the said High Court decision holding that the doctor's negligence could be ascertained only by scanning all material and expert evidence that might be adduced during the trial. The High Court was held not justified in quashing the complaint at the threshold invoking the special power under S. 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code as that would do away with a full-fledged criminal trial necessary for fixing criminal liability.

Relevant legal provisions
According to S. 304A of the IPC
, whoever causes the death of any person by a rash or negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide shall be punished by imprisonment for up to two years, or by fine, or both.

According to S. 80 of the IPC, 'nothing is an offence which is done by accident or misfortune, and without any criminal intention or knowledge in the doing of a lawful act, in a lawful manner, by lawful means and with proper care and caution.' In other words, if a person commits an act by accident or misfortune without a criminal intention, using lawful means and with proper care and caution, his action cannot be labelled a criminal offence.

Again, S. 88 of the IPC provides that nothing which is not intended to cause death, is an offence by reason of any harm which it may cause, or be intended by the doer to cause, or be known by the doer to be likely to cause, to any person for whose benefit it is done in good faith, and who has given a consent, whether express or implied, to suffer that harm, or to take the risk of that harm. In other words, an act, not intended to cause death, and done in good faith and with the consent of the other party, cannot be labelled an offence even if it leads to the other party's death or disability. It may also be mentioned here that the word 'good faith' used here has a special meaning. It means an act done wih due care and attention.

Let us analyse the recent Supreme Court decision in the light of the legal positions stated above.

On April 18, 1994, Dr Suresh Gupta, a plastic surgeon, operated on his patient for removing a nasal deformity. Allegedly, he made an incorrect incision as a result of which blood seeped into the patient's respiratory passage leading to his immediate collapse and death. A case was filed against the doctor under S. 304A of the IPC. The anaesthetist who assisted Dr Gupta in the operation was also made co-accused; but he died while the trial was pending. The criminal proceedings therefore continued against Dr Gupta alone.

Rejecting Dr Gupta's plea for discharge without trial, the magistrate noted that according to the post-mortem report, the cause of death was 'blockage of respiratory passage by aspirated blood consequent upon surgically incised margin of nasal septum'; that the medical experts constituting the Special Medical Board set up for the investigation had opined that the blockage and aspiration of blood from the wound were not likely to arise if a cuffed endotracheal tube of proper size had been introduced before the operation and kept intact, and that the negligence in not taking this precaution justified further trial proceedings.

The Supreme Court did not agree to this. It has now held that to fix criminal liability on a doctor or surgeon, the standard of negligence required to be proved should be so high that it can be described as gross negligence or recklessness and not merely lack of necessary care, attention and skill. Every careless act of a medical person cannot be termed 'criminal'. It can be termed 'criminal' only when doctors exhibit gross lack of competence or inaction, and wanton indifference to their patients' safety, as a result of gross ignorance or gross negligence. When a patient's death results merely from an error of judgment or an accident, no criminal liability should be attached to it. Mere inadvertence or some degree of want of adequate care and caution might create civil liability; but not criminal liability. It was held that but for this approach, the hazards in the medical profession which include civil liability would also unreasonably extend to criminal liability, and doctors would then be at the risk of landing up in prison, a result that would shake the mutual confidence between doctor and patient.

Based on these facts, the Supreme Court held that though the patient was a young man with no history of any heart ailment, the operation to be performed for nasal deformity was not so complicated or serious; and that the alleged lapse, i.e. the failure to introduce a cuffed endotracheal tube of proper size to prevent aspiration of blood from the wound in the respiratory passage, could not be described as a reckless or grossly negligent act as to make him criminally liable. Holding that such evidence was wanting, the doctor was acquitted without trial.

Were these findings not similar to those held by the High Court concerned, though in different words in Mohanan's case, but found unsustainable by the Supreme Court then? If the quashing of the charge with the observation that the doctor's negligence could be ascertained only by scanning the material and expert evidence that might be adduced during a prospective trial was not in order in Mohanan's case, how could the reason given for quashing charges in Dr Suresh Gupta's case be correct?

It appears that if the decision in Mohanan's case had been followed by the later Bench that decided Dr Suresh Gupta's case, the ultimate decision might have been different. Probably the earlier decision was not cited before the new Bench.

The impact of the judgment, though significant, may be short lived. The reason is that according to press reports, a Bench consisting of Justice Arijit Pasayat and CK Thakker, on or about September 9, 2004, has referred the question of medical negligence for determination by a larger Bench of the Supreme Court observing that the words 'gross, reckless, competence, indifference' etc. did not occur anywhere in the definition of 'negligence' under S. 304A of the IPC, and hence, they could not agree with the judgment delivered in the case of Dr Suresh Gupta. Thus the matter will come up for review before a larger bench of the Supreme Court any time now.

M R Hariharan Nair, (Retired Kerala High Court Judge), Chairman, Institutional Review Committee, Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Science and Technology, Thiruvananthapuram 695011, Kerala, India. email:

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Laurene said...

I think for a doctor to do surgery on a person to take their gall bladder out and the doctor cuts into their colon, closes them up and sends them home from the hospital without repairing the damaged colon is not excusable. The person I am referring to subsequently died of gangrene, he was a very young man at the time.The man's doctor should have lost his license, if he even had a license. I think a lot of doctors get their license out of a gumball machines"as it is" We need a law for all doctors, one strike and you are out of a job Mr. MD

By the way this was establish to be true.

8:35 PM 
Anonymous said...

What do you suggest that people do with the lawyer who loses the case despite the client being innocent and the client getting a life sentance?

9:36 PM 
Anonymous said...

hi laurene......

could you please give me the citation of the case that you are referin to........

thank you

1:38 PM 
Anonymous said...

A recent article from the Indian Express
Posted @ 4/21/2006 10:18 PM
Boy’s death: docs told to pay Rs 2 lakh
Posted online: Wednesday, April 12, 2006 at 1123 hours IST

NEW DELHI, APRIL 12: Holding two doctors at a plastic surgery clinic in the Capital guilty of medical negligence, the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has ordered them to pay Rs 2 lakh to the complainant, whose two-and-a-half-year old son died after receiving anaesthesia.

The two-member bench, presided by Justice J D Kapoor and member Rumnita Mittal, ruled, ‘‘The hospital where the child was taken, as well as Dr B Kaur, who administered the anaesthesia, are guilty of medical negligence and are liable to compensate the parents.’’
The bench held the two doctors — Suresh Gupta and B Kaur of the Delhi Plastic Surgery Clinic— jointly as well as severally liable to pay the complainant’s mother, whose son, put under anaesthesia, never regained consciousness and died within three days.
As per the complaint, Ankur had sustained injuries on his forehead in 1991. Apprehending a scar on the face due to the stitches, his mother Madhu Sudan, took him to a clinic where Dr Gupta advised micro stitches to render the marks invisible. during the treatment, Ankur was injected with an anaesthetic containing Ketamine.
But when the child did not regain consciousness for several hours, his parents panicked and took him to Sir Ganga Ram Hospital where he reportedly died of ‘‘cardio-respiratory arrest’’.
The clinic, denying the allegation of negligent treatment, said the anaesthesia which was administered to the victim, is commonly given to children before minor surgeries. However, anaesthetist Kaur told the court that the effect of Ketamine was unpredictable.

7:40 AM 
Anonymous said...

IIPM Editorial

Death of Justice

The onus is now on citizens to rescue the Indian judicial
Can Caesar’s wife be holier than thou when Rome is riddled with governance that rivals the most incestuous excesses of Caligula; or when the maggots of corruption, networking, connivance, coercion and feudalism gnaw away at the very foundations of a modern society?

For Machang Laulung, the words do not even resonate with poignancy. He was arrested in 1951 for an assault case, details of which even the Assam Police has forgotten. The man was freed after 54 years behind bars for a crime he probably did not commit. But hey, one won’t find too many lawyers, activists and citizens shedding tears over this unfortunate man and his destiny. Yet, hundreds of lawyers and ‘experts’ protested against the former Delhi High Court Judge Shamit Mukherjee being arrested for aiding land scams in the capital – this honorable judge could not resist what Caesar’s wife was expected to resist – greed and lust. The protests were held ostensibly because arresting a senior High Court judge undermined the institution of judiciary in the country!

News Channels and newspapers, having tasted blood in the Jessica Lal case, have gone all cylinders fi ring to resurrect the 1996 Matto case, which revolves around a law college student, Sudarshan Sharma, stalking (according to offi cial police records) and then allegedly raping and killing his classmate Priyadarshani Matoo. Yet, how many of us know that the accused Santosh Singh is now a lawyer who is practicing in a Delhi Court? Aft er getting hold of this shocking information, NDTV talked to well known lawyer Kamini Jaiswal who said: “It was a case of rape and murder. This is grotesque. How would any client face him when he knows this man and what kind of defence will he give. It is a very serious matter. The Bar Council should’ve taken a note of it.” While acquitting Santosh Singh in 1999, the judge had pronounced in an anguished tone: “I know he is the man who committed the crime, but I acquit him giving him the benefit of doubt.”

Of course, in true Indian style, there are heinous crimes that attract swift and well justified retribution. A 16 year old teenage girl was strolling with her friends at Marine Drive in Mumbai on June 21, 2005, during a balmy afternoon. A police constable Sunil More forced the teenage girl to accompany him to the police post and brutally raped her three times. Virtually the whole of Mumbai erupted in anger and the police post was burnt down by a mob of angry middle class people. On April 3, 2006 – less than a year after the crime – a Mumbai court sentenced More to 12 years of hard imprisonment. More had already been dismissed from service.

Outsourced Justice

It was revealed after Delhi High Court Judge Justice Shamit Mukherjee was arrested that a number of his judgements were written, re-written or changed by Vinod Khatri, a restaurant owner who was fighting a case against DDA in which Mukherjee was the judge!

Not have powerful godfathers ever ready to pull strings. Just look at the contrast between the Best Bakery and the Jessica Lal cases. During the murderous Gujarat riots of 2002, Zaheera Sheikh saw her family’s bakery, Best Bakery, being burnt down by a rampaging mob, and 11 of her relatives being brutally butchered. Greed or coercion transformed this once “shining symbol of a nation crying out for justice” into a hostile witness.

After a retrial was ordered by the Supreme Court and the accused were convicted, the Supreme Court also sentenced Zaheera to one year in jail for perjury – that is legally defined in India as changing statements previously sworn in judicial affi davits. But the Jessica Lal case is different, as there is no attempt at retrial, but only an appeal in the higher court against the acquittal of accused Manu Sharma, who allegedly shot dead model Jessica Lal in April 1999, after she refused to serve him a drink. And, of course, the Delhi Police is conducting an internal investigation. In the meanwhile – even as Zaheera spends time in a Mumbai jail – Shayan Munshi, the key witness in the murder case who turned hostile and virtually destroyed the prosecution case, is busy walking the ramp in glitzy fashion shows and shooting for Hindi TV serials and movies (Incidentally, Munshi claimed in court during the trial that he doesn’t know or understand Hindi; and that he signed the FIR without knowing what is written in the FIR!).

Another eye witness Bina Ramani, against whom the Delhi Police levelled allegations of tampering with evidence (she was allegedly instrumental in wiping away the blood stains on the fl oor of her then illegal bar and restaurant Tamarind Court where the murder took place) has been allowed by the Delhi High Court to fl y down to Thailand for a family wedding.

Of course, she has to submit a bond worth half a million rupees. Says Bishnu Pradhan, a lawyer practicing in Delhi courts for 15 years: “Those are things like these that give an impression that the rich can buy their way out of justice. What if Zaheera had a family wedding? Would she be able to manage five lakhs?”

Those are not just rapists and murderers who are exploiting loopholes in the legal system or simply using their power and influence to completely subvert the system to ensure that they get away with their crimes. Money and influence enables even financial crooks to cheat and loot investors and financial institutions to the tune of hundreds of millions of rupees and get away after a brief flirt with law.

The Harshad Mehta scandal erupted in April 1992. The CBI eventually filed about 70 cases against various accused. Most cases continue to languish in courts; even Harshad Mehta died in December 2001 of a heart attack.

C. Bhansali is another one who has. R successfully managed to evade retribution so far. His company, CRB Capital Markets duped more than one hundred thirty thousand small investors and numerous financial institutions to the tune of Rs.12 billion in 1996-97, while he fled to Hong Kong.

The CBI arrested many top offi cials of the company and started extradition proceedings against Bhansali. The man “voluntarily” came back to India in 1997, was arrested by the CBI and cooled his heels behind bars for a few months, after which he managed to get bail. In January 2006, a Delhi High Court verdict appointed an administrator to oversee the process of small investors and institutions getting back their money from Bhansali’s personal and company’s bank accounts that have remained frozen since 1996.

But what could be worse is that Bhansali’s lawyers claim that their client now wants to enter IT, media and biotech! Ketan Parekh is yet another example how the rich and the influential get away, no matter how dubious their sources of money, and how illegal the methods adopted by them to make that money.

When the share markets crashed in March 2001 and UTI went practically bankrupt, investigations revealed that Parekh had siphoned off tens of billions of rupees from cooperative banks and leveraged them to manipulate the markets.

In time honored tradition, Parekh was arrested by the CBI and then managed to get bail as usual. If murderers, rapists and scam artists can subvert the system, why can’t terrorists? Judges were routinely threatened in Punjab during the Khalistani terrorism phase in the 1980s and early 1990s to the point that most judges were afraid of trying cases involving terrorists.

This was one of the main reasons for Punjab Police, led by K. P. S. Gill, launching a strategy of “we take no prisoners” and simply killing the terrorists in encounters. Many innocents were also killed in the bargain. The same story is now being repeated with impunity in Jammu & Kashmir.

The 1993 Bombay blast trial is still going on, and 13 years aft er the gruesome event, the main accused, Dawood Ibrahim, is allegedly enjoying a luxurious life in Karachi in Pakistan. But it is the Coimbatore blasts trial that needs special mention. Th e main accused in the blasts that killed 58 innocent people in 1998 is Abdul Madani, who also runs a political outfit in Kerala.

It has been revealed that Madani repeatedly shows his utter contempt for the Indian state in front of the judge; and frequently and openly threatens the judge and his family members with death and other bodily harm. The case has been going on for about 8 years and the Left Front that is contesting the assembly elections in Kerala is being supported by Madani without any objection from the comrades!

A few Indians take comfort from the fact that at least some rapists, murderers, scam artists and terrorists get their just rewards. But one section that almost invariably manages to get away with just about anything is the one that rules India – the politicians.

It was clearly established that Shibu Soren and some other members of Parliament had taken at least Rs.10 million in bribes to vote in favor of the P. V. Narashima Rao government in 1992. The Supreme Court eventually ruled that they cannot be punished because they enjoy parliamentary privilege! It was clear as daylight that many politicians were involved in laundering black money through the hawala route in the notorious hawala case that erupted in the mid 1990s.

It is also known that terrorists use the same hawala route to transfer funds. Yet, the Supreme Court had to acquit all the politicians for want of evidence. More than Rs.30 million in cash – among other things – was found in former Union Communications Minister Sukh Ram during a CBI raid at his residence. He has been acquitted.

The infamous fodder cases against present Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav and his wife, the former Bihar CM have been going on since 1996. Says well known Supreme Court lawyer Ashok Arora: “It is very easy to blame politicians for every problem in India – including the crisis in the Indian judicial system. The reality is: Politicians, lawyers, judges – and most importantly – the public, are all equally to blame for the mess. Why do well to do people turn hostile witnesses even when they face no tangible threat?”

Rapist to Husband

Bhure brutally assaults and rapes a nurse in a Delhi hospital. With the trial about to be over, the Delhi court accepts a petition from Bhure to marry the victim and asks her to consider marriage with the rapist. Facing outraged protests, the judge gives a life sentence to Bhure.

Doctor Death

Sivash Karim was operated upon by plastic surgeon Dr. Suresh Gupta in 1994 and died due to the doctor’s negligence. In 2005, a Supreme Court bench declared that the doctor’s negligence resulting in a patient’s death did not amount to a criminal offence and merely a civil one!

1 CW-1486/1986 [ DISPOSED ] DR.SURESH GUPTA Vs. UOI K.N. BHAT,KETKI GOSWAMI, SANJAY PODDAR Disposed on : Thursday, December 13, 2001 Court No. : 51

2 S-1705/1986 [ ] DR. SURESH GUPTA Vs. D.D.A.& ANR. PC KHANNA,RAVINDER DAYAL AMIT KHEMKA,BN DHAR Last Listed on : Tuesday, October 21, 2003 Court No. : 22

3 CRLMM-1336/1987 [ DISPOSED ] DR SURESH GUPTA Vs. DDA PC KHANNA,PN TALWAR ST.COUNSEL Disposed on : Thursday, March 01, 2001 Court No. : 17

4 CW-1014/1991 [ DISPOSED ] DR.SURESH GUPTA Vs. M.C.D. & ANR PRADEEP DEWAN ST.COUNSEL(MCD) Disposed on : Friday, January 24, 2003 Court No. : 13

5 CW-2376/1992 [ DISPOSED ] DR.SURESH GUPTA Vs. DESU & ANR. ST.COUNSEL(DESU/MCD) Disposed on: Tuesday, September 21, 2004 Court No. : 17

6 CW-3681/1992 [ DISPOSED ] DR.SURESH GUPTA Vs. UOI RUCHI SINDHWANI A.K.SINGLA,H.S.PHOOLKA Disposed on : Monday, January 02, 1995 Court No. :

7 CW-2368/1993 [ DISPOSED ] DR.SURESH GUPTA Vs. DDA S.R.BHATT,JAYANT BHUSHAN R.D.JOLLY Disposed on : Thursday, January 16, 1997 Court No. : 4

8 CW-2655/1993 [ DISPOSED ] DR. SURESH GUPTA Vs. DESU NAVEEN R.NATH BC PANDEY Disposed on : Thursday, January 27, 2005 Court No. : 12

9 S-2922/1994 [ ] DR. SURESH GUPTA Vs. ASSO.OF PLASTIC SURGEONS OF INDIA & ORS RUCHI SINDHWANI PC KHANNA,BENU MADAN Last Listed on : Tuesday, September 03, 1996 Court No. : 23

10 CP-409/1998 [ PENDING ] DR. SURESH GUPTA Vs. DCM RUCHI SINDHWANI KRISHAN KUMAR Last Listed on : Friday, September 24, 1999 Court No. : 22

11 CRLR-100/1999 [ DISPOSED ] DR. SURESH GUPTA Vs. GOVT. OF NCT OF DELHI & ANR RUCHI SINDHWANI,P.SHARMA Disposed on : Tuesday, April 01, 2003 Court No. : 14


Status of : Appeal Criminal 778 Of 2004
Arising From : CRLR 100/99 OF
Date of Disposal : 04/08/2004

Ms Indira Jaisingh, a lawyer at the Supreme Court who specialises in public interest litigation, said she did not agree with the ruling: "If there is a lack of adequate care, there has to be criminal liability."

"If any patient were to fight a civil suit for negligence here, he will get a pittance as compensation, unlike the United Kingdom, where he would get a huge compensation," said Ms Jaisingh. "At the same time doctors will not fear any criminal prosecution," she added.

Whose influence was used? Why did the dead man's family and the pathologist leave India? What has disappearance of documents, legal relationships, negligence, corruption, etc. got to do with it?

• # re: Case
The Investigating Officer was SubInspector Dinesh Kumar.

• # re: Case

Posted @ 5/14/2006 12:41 AM

Saturday, Sep 11, 2004
New Delhi

Around the City

S-I suspended

NEW DELHI SEPT. 10. A Delhi Police sub-inspector was allegedly beaten up by a group of lawyers following a scuffle between him and a lawyer at Karkardooma courts in East Delhi today. The policeman has been suspended and an inquiry has been ordered into the incident.
According to the police, Sub-Inspector Dinesh Kumar, posted at the Seelampur police station, had come to Karkardooma court in connection with the hearing of a case of the Crime Against Women Cell. Around 10-30 a.m., after the hearing which resulted in bail of one of the accused, Dinesh had a verbal argument with a lawyer in the case, Ravinder Kumar. Soon the altercation turned ugly and Dinesh allegedly slapped the lawyer. Ravinder called a handful of other lawyers and they charged towards Dinesh, who ran for cover into the court of Assistant Sub-Judge, S.P. Garg. However, lawyers did not stop at that and rushed into the room. They caught hold of Dinesh and beat him up.
Following the incident, the lawyers called off work for the day and resorted to slogan shouting.
Meanwhile, S-I Dinesh has been suspended and an inquiry, to be conducted by the Crime Branch of the Delhi police, has been ordered into the incident.

Tuesday, February 23, 1999
Congress, BJP trade charges on bogus voting

NEW DELHI, February 22: For the Delhi leaders of the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party, today's by-election seemed to be a do-or-die battle with veterans of rural Delhi -- Sajjan Kumar and Sahib Singh Verma -- lobbing charges of bogus voting in Nangloi Jat.
In all this political high-drama, the voters were not perturbed with very few turning up to cast their votes till mid-day. The Election Commission gave a verdict of ``peaceful polling'', except for one incident in which BJP leaders objected to Congress MLA Naseeb Singh's presence as a polling agent for an independent candidate at the Central School polling station in the IIT campus.
The Nangloi election is crucial for both Sahib Singh and Sajjan Kumar who have been sidelined in their own parties. While the former chief minister accused the Delhi Police of conniving with the Congress MLAs to rig the polls and discourage genuine voters from voting, Sajjan Kumar claimed that Verma slapped a sub-inspector for stopping bogus voters.
Sajjan Kumar did not give the name of the SI, whereas Sahib Singh named three police officials Inspector A.S. Yadav who was on duty in St Mark's School in Pashim Vihar, SI Dinesh Kumar and ASI Jai Bhagwan in Rajdhani Park, for harassing voters and stopping them from casting their vote.
He even claimed that Congress MLAs were themselves involved in casting bogus votes: ``After casting a bogus vote, Congress MLA Mukesh Sharma flaunted the ink mark to me. They were openly rigging the polls with help of certain police officials.''
The BJP Delhi chief Mange Ram Garg feebly put in: ``We are going to win both the seats.'' The DPCC president and Chief Minister, Sheila Dikshit, who had a quiet day at her Old Secretariat office, refused to make any comments.

Investigating officer in Shivani murder case appears in court
One of the investigating officers in the Journalist Shivani Bhatnagar murder case today told the court that he and the other policemen did not sign the entry register during the investigation visit at the housing society apartment where she lived. Appearing before the Additioanl Session Judge Rajender Kumar, SI Dinesh Kumar while being cross-examined by suspended IPS officer R K Sharma's counsel S P Minaocha, told that he did not sign the entry register when they took Sharma to the Sahyog Apartments in east Delhi for pointing out the place where he used to visit the slain journalist. According to one of the defence counsels, this lapse on the part of the police raises doubt on whether the investigation is being conducted properly. Earlier this year, the case involving suspended Haryana cadre IPS officer R K Sharma along with five others as accused, was transferred to a Fast Track Court (FTC) for speedy disposal exactly seven years after the gruesome murder of the Indian Express scribe Bhatnagar. Sharma, after being suspended from his job and evading arrest for a long period, surrendered before the Judicial Magistrate of Panchkula, Haryana in October 2002 and later, Delhi police interrogated him after getting the transit remand. The Police had charged Sharma and five others under various sections including 302 (murder) and 120 B (crimanal conspiracy) of the IPC. The journalist was found murdered at her East Delhi apartment on January 23, 1999.

Getting away with crime: Students blame parents
[ Saturday, April 22, 2006 12:23:17 am TIMES NEWS NETWORK ]

NEW DELHI: Youth of the country have the power to bring about a revolution to effect a change in the judicial system — so feels the younger generation. On the lines of Rang De Basanti you would think, but not quite. Because they also feel strongly against taking the law into their own hands.

Speaking at the annual inter-school elocution competition for the Dandi March Rolling trophy organised by the Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Smriti, students of over 60 schools expressed their views on the topic 'Why the powerful get away with crimes'.

Voicing their concerns against reservation, the nexus between the rich and politicians and their mafia links, students of classes IX to XII of various Delhi schools expressed their anger at the failure of judicial system.

"Cases stretch for years during which witnesses may turn hostile or just get fed up with the system," said one participant.

With the past decade having thrown up numerous cases of rich and influential people getting away literally with murder, the anger in the youngsters against the failed system was palpable.

Citing the Jessica Lall murder case, Nitish Katara murder case and many others, students held parents responsible for the acts of their children as they "irresponsibly pampered their senseless offsprings."

Giving away prizes to the winners — first place went to Sanjoli Chauhan of Modern School, Barakhamba Road, second spot was occupied by Poornima Narang of St Cecilia's Public School and third place went to Varanjot Kaur of Amity International School — retired Chief Justice of India, V N Khare, explained the situation from the other side of the fence.

"There are too many people involved between the filing of the FIR and the dispensation of justice. Police could be hand in glove with criminals, there are very few judges and vulnerable public prosecutors — all these become hurdles in the path of justice. We have to evolve such a system that so many unnecessary procedural activities are done away with," he said.

10:16 AM 

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