The Kerala High Court has directed the state government to take steps, if necessary, to verify the education certificates of all doctors currently working in government hospitals in the state, to make sure that there were no culprits in the profession.
The court also stressed on the need for certain guidelines to ensure that appointment orders for medical practitioners in the state are issued to select candidates only after getting their educational certificates verified and authenticated by the Universities/institutions that have issued to them.
“This is not to demoralise the hard-working doctors in the state, who are our strength and pride. It is only to make sure that culprits are not there in the profession and also to build confidence to the society”, the court said in the order dated July 26.
It said this while considering a plea seeking to issue directions to the state Health Ministry and Directorate of Health Service in this regard.
In the plea, the petitioners, a couple, also sought Rs 20 lakh in compensation, alleging that they lost their baby in 2019 due to the incompetence of the doctor who attended the delivery case at the Taluk headquarters hospital, Karunagappally, in Kollam district.
They submitted that had the doctor performed her duty in an ordinary, prudent manner, the child could have been saved.
Upon enquiring about the academic credentials and qualifications of the doctor who claims to have obtained an MBBS, MS in obstetrics and gynaecology, it was found that she had not completed the DGO course, the petitioners said.
The doctor had claimed to have obtained a master’s degree from the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Science, Seva Gram, Maharashtra, they said.
Taking a serious note of the matter, Justice P V Kunhikrishnan said in the order that it is prima facie clear that Dr T S Seema committed serious criminal offences, including misconduct, and directed a crime branch probe into the matter and to file an action taken report within a month.
“The State Police Chief will constitute a special investigation team to investigate this case within one week from the date of receipt of this order. The action taken report shall be filed by the investigating team before this court within one month. I make it clear that the investigating team shall investigate the matter untrammelled by any observation in this order”, said the order dated July 26.
On the demand for compensation, the court said it was sure that the state government will redress the grievance of the petitioner.
The court also directed the health ministry to file an affidavit about the quantum of compensation that can be paid to the petitioner within one month.
It further said that if the facts alleged in this writ petition are correct, there will be apprehensions in the minds of the public about the doctors’ community.
“It is the duty of the government to rule out these apprehensions and to create a doctor friendly atmosphere in our society. There may not be any doubt that the public health department of our state is a role model for other states in the country, for which the government deserves appreciation. But the facts alleged in this case show that more scrutiny is necessary”, the court said.
“Certain guidelines is necessary to ensure that appointment orders of medical practitioners in the state are issued to selected candidates only after getting their educational certificates verified and authenticated by the Universities/institution that have issued to them. If necessary steps should be taken to verify the education certificates of all government doctors working as on today”, it said.
The petitioners were represented by advocates S R Prasanth and Bhanu Thilak.