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Times of India
21 May 2009
New Delhi, India

This Supreme Court ruling could be a boon for accident victims, many of whom have lost their lives because of doctors’ reluctance to attend to an injured immediately without informing the police and registration of a medico–legal case, which consumes precious time.

The primary job of a doctor is to attend to the injured and not to take down his name, the cause of accident or injury and other such incidental injury, said a bench comprising Justices S B Sinha and Cyriac Joseph. This ruling could save doctors a lot of headache and harassment in the court during their examination as witness in a case.

“It is not the requirement of law that doctors, even before admitting the injured or during their treatment, must note down every detail of the incident or names of the witnesses in the registers maintained by them,” said Justice Sinha.

This ruling came in a criminal case where the doctor’s testimony was rejected on the ground that he had not noted down the relevant details of the crime and the name of the injured and the witnesses who brought him to the hospital.

The bench said: “If the doctors were engaged in discharge of their primary duty, that is attending the patients, we are of the opinion that only because the name a witness, who is said to have shifted them (the injured) to the hospital, had not been mentioned by itself can be a ground for not relying on his testimony in support of the prosecution case.”

It dismissed the appeal filed by one Gurunath Donkappa Keri, challenging his conviction and sentence by a Karnataka trial court, which was later upheld by the high court. Citing discrepancies in the doctor’s testimony relating to recording of the name of person who had brought the injured to hospital.

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