Kerala High Court terms order of the human rights body as grossest violation of principles of natural justice

A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court comprising of the Chief Justice Navaniti Prasad Singh and Justice Raja Vijayaraghavan came down heavily against a verdict passed by the State Human Rights Commission based on newspaper reports alone and without even a complaint from the persons concerned.

Three government doctors had filed a writ petition challenging the Human Rights Commission’s suo-motu proceedings where these doctors were found guilty of medical negligence. The Commission’s order also imposed an exemplary fine of Rs 50,000 to be paid by the government to the patient and to be recovered from the petitioners.

The Court opined that after careful examination of the facts noted by the Commission, it disagrees there was any medical negligence. After the patient had undergone complete Hysterectomy operation, it was found at the time of closure of the surgical wound that a part of the surgical towel clip was missing. Though a frantic search was made, it could not be located inside or outside the body. The incision was closed to facilitate an X-ray to detect the clip. The patient was then moved to the Medical College Hospital and the clip was removed. The Court confirms that all these actions show there was no medical negligence and all due care was taken. The patient’s wards were properly informed and the records duly maintained.

The incident was blown out of proportion and sensationalized by the media and the Human Rights Commission through the Acting Chairperson reacted hastily without proper inspection of the facts, solely based on newspaper reports, the Court observed.

Newspaper reports relating to the incident

The Court said, “It seems that the press got this information and sensationalized as usual the whole thing.”

The High Court held that the order of the Commission cannot be sustained. It states that the action of the Commission is in grossest violation of principles of natural justice. The Court observed that the Commission’s order was without initiating a proper proceeding and without giving notice neither to the petitioners nor the State. The Court has also reinforced and reminded the Commission that the elementary principle of law that no one can be condemned without affording them a fair hearing.

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