NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court has warned against “skimpy and wishy-washy” medical documents which are used for seeking bail by undertrials.
It made it clear that such “ambiguous, incomplete documentation in illegible handwriting will not be entertained in future” and will be viewed seriously with suspicion.
The high courts said the status reports filed by the jail doctors should be explicit and explain the medical terms, not just in medical jargon but also in simple language as advantage is being taken of the fact that judges are not medical experts and are therefore unable to correctly appreciate the nature of the ailments.
Justice Subramonium Prasad, in an order passed on Monday, said it is found that the medical reports filed by the jail superintendents are not clear and the medical terms used are not easily decipherable by judges.
The reports do not bring out the correct picture and sketchy and incomplete reports are given by hospitals/doctors which are being used for grant of bail or extension of bail, the high court noted.
“The doctors preparing the status reports must clearly give their final impression and opinion as to whether the condition warrants any urgency/ emergency. Further, the status report must explicitly state if the condition of the patient is likely benign/malignant/infective and state clearly whether surgery is needed for that specific condition or not,” it said.
It added that, “A serious note is taken of such skimpy, wishy-washy medical documentation and the licence of such doctors should be cancelled if found to be lacking/falsely done.
“Advantage is being taken of the fact that judges are not medical experts and are therefore unable to correctly appreciate the nature of the ailments. The accused try to get their bail extended even though they are not suffering from any serious ailments which require them to be released on interim bail,” it said.
The high court said all this reeks of several lacunae at several levels including the medical personnel both at the level of jail hospital and the private doctor”s level.
The high court said it has found that the reports from several private hospitals are very veiled and do not disclose the correct diagnostic terms which can be appreciated by a judge, who is not from the medical background.
“Applications on medical grounds are now being made as a ruse to get interim bail and then prolong it for indefinite periods even though it is not required and thereby taking the courts for a ride. Sketchy, wishy-washy medical documents from any random private doctor with ambiguous, incomplete documentation in illegible handwriting will not be entertained in future, rather viewed seriously with suspicion,” it said.
The court was dealing with a case where an accused was granted interim bail on the ground that his medical report showed “right-sided gynecomastia” or enlargement of male breasts, and piles apart from diabetes and blood pressure.
While the Fine Needle Aspiration Cytology (FNAC) conducted by the jail hospital stated that the accused had a simple case of gynecomastia, the accused in his bail application before the trial court claimed that he had a “chest tumour, which is making his breathing difficult and which can turn into a cancer”.
The court said medical conditions like diabetes and hypertension and haemorrhoids are very common among 70-80 per cent of the jail inmates and the term ”uncontrollable” has been used for hypertension, but at no time was any of the Blood Pressure (BP) recording seems to be so.
“Haemorrhoids, hypertension and diabetes all these conditions can be medically treated by the jail hospital. The question that arises is why should bail be granted for these very easily treatable disorders, which can be contained simply by taking oral medicines. If at all, an operation has to be performed, the same ought to have been for the haemorrhoids.
“There was no occasion for performing surgery for gynecomastia which is a simple case of enlarged male breast tissue. This simple condition has been described as ”a tumour in the chest” causing breathing difficulty. The reality is that the procedure was simply a cosmetic surgery,” it said.
The court suspected foul play and lack of good faith in the present case as the post-surgery report of the accused mentioned ”removal of tumour” when there was none.
The court said if an attempt is made to simply prolong or use lame excuses and take the help of such ambiguous medical documents provided by doubtful or questionable private doctors, it would be viewed seriously by the court and action should be taken against those private doctors.
It must be noted that private doctors who submit such sketchy, wishy-washy medical reports are guilty of an offence under Section 192 (fabricating false evidence) of the IPC.
The court refrained from taking action in this case as the accused has already surrendered and is back in custody and advised doctors to be more cautious while giving medical certificates for the purposes of submitting them as evidence before a court of law.
It said that a copy of the order be circulated to all the jail superintendents to ensure that accurate medical reports are prepared to assist judges while considering application for bail on medical grounds.