Doctors must be cautious while giving medical certificates for bail; should explain medical jargon in simple language: Delhi High Court

6th Apr,2021

Doctors must be cautious while giving medical certificates for bail; should explain medical jargon in simple language: Delhi High Court

The Delhi High Court has stated that shaky, ambiguous medical records obtained from any random private doctor in order to obtain bail will not be accepted in the future and will be "viewed seriously with suspicion" (Himanshu Dabas vs State). The Court also ordered that the status reports filed by jail doctors in bail cases should be explicit and describe complicated medical terminology in plain English rather than medical jargon.

*FACTUAL BACKGROUND*
The accused was given temporary bail in this case because his medical examination revealed "Right-sided gynecomastia," or enlargement of male breasts, as well as stacks, in addition to diabetes and blood pressure. While the jail hospital's Fine Needle Aspiration Cytology revealed that the accused had a simple case of gynecomastia, the accused claimed in his bail application before the trial court that he had a "chest tumour" that was making his breathing difficult and could turn into cancer. The medical reports submitted by the Jail Superintendents, on the basis of which the trial court granted temporary bail to the accused, were not explicit, according to the Court, and the medical terminology used were not easily decipherable by judges.

*COURT'S OBSERVATION*
The order was issued by Justice Subramonium Prasad, who was sitting as a single judge on a case involving "sketchy medical records" provided by the jail authorities at the time of granting bail. The Court stressed that supplying dubious documentation is a crime under Section 192 of the Indian Penal Code, and urged doctors to be more careful when providing medical certificates for the purpose of presenting them as evidence in court. The Court also ordered that the status reports filed by jail doctors in bail cases should be explicit and describe complicated medical terminology in plain English rather than medical jargon. The doctors writing the status reports must explicitly state whether the condition is possibly benign/malignant/infectious and whether it merits any urgency/emergency, according to the Court. In this case, the Court alleged foul play and bad faith because the accused's post-surgery report stated that a tumour had been removed while there was none. Such sloppy, ambiguous medical documentation should be taken seriously, and physicians' licences should be revoked if they are found to be incomplete or incorrectly completed. The fact that judges are not medical practitioners is used to their advantage, as they are unable to properly assess the extent of the ailments. Even if they are not suffering from any medical illnesses that cause them to be released on temporary bail, the accused attempt to get their bail extended. While the Court declined to take any action in this case because the accused had already confessed, it did note that if medical reports raise doubt in the mind of a judge, they should be sent for review by a Medical Board comprised of two to three experts from a government hospital, and action should be taken.