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Are doctors liable for negligence in criminal law?

In every profession, some perform their duty with utmost good faith and some with malafide intention. But the real question is why the patient has to suffer due to the mala fide intention of the doctors. Isn’t it unfair to them? That is the reason why doctors also fall under the ambit of Consumer Protection Act in the case Indian Medical Association v. VP Shantha.

 

Punishment in criminal negligence

 

We know that doctors are punished in civil negligence under the law of tort and Consumer Protection Act. Now, we will know how the doctor is liable in criminal negligence under Indian Penal Code.

 

Section 304 A of Indian Penal Code

 

Section 304 A of Indian Penal Code talks about causing death by negligence. If a doctor fulfills the condition of the aforementioned section then he will be published.

The punishment for the same is imprisonment for 2 years or fine or both.

Essential requisite of the aforesaid section is –

  • Death of the person
  • Accused caused death of that person
  • Act of accused was rash or negligent
  • The act didn’t amount to culpable homicide

Here rash means proper care and caution was not taken but injury was caused without intention to cause injury. He didn’t know that the act cause the death of that person.

Here negligence means breach of duty imposed by law or omission to perform his duty.

 

Section 338 of Indian Penal Code

 

Apart from this, doctors will be punishable under 338 of IPC for causing grievous hurt endangering the life of patients. Punishment for the same is 2 years of imprisonment or fine up to 1000 rupees or both. 

The essential requisite of the aforesaid section is –

  • Grievous hurt cause to any person
  • Act of the accused was rash or negligent
  • Act can endanger human life or personal safety

 

Section 337 of Indian Penal Code

 

Here a doctor shall be punished if he causes hurt endangering the life of patients. The punishment for the same is 6 months of imprisonment or fine up to 500 rupees or both.

The essential requisite of the aforementioned section is –

  • Hurt caused to any person
  • Act of the accused was rash or negligent
  • Act can endanger human life or personal safety

 

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