The Lahore High Court on Monday granted ad-interim bail for five days to four doctors, allegedly involved in the murder case of infant, Fahad, by way of pulling out a drip administered to him for medication at Mayo Hospital during doctors’ strike.
Justice Ijazul Ahsan issued this order while hearing a writ petition seeking quashment of a murder case registered against eight doctors. Police had arrested four of them and a judicial magistrate, early in the day, sent them jail after completion of their physical remand.
The judge directed arrested doctors, Dr Matloob Ahmad, Dr Usmanul Haq, Dr Muhammad Tajammal and Dr Muhammad Aadil Mansoor Bajwa to submit surety of Rs.100,000 each to LHC deputy registrar (judicial) to secure their release from jail.
The judge held mammoth proceedings till late Monday afternoon in a packed to capacity courtroom with young doctors.
The court also restricted the four doctors from participating in agitation or calling strike. The court also asked them to return to their duties and join police investigation.
As the proceedings started on Monday, Muhammad Afzal, complainant of the case, appeared before the court along with his counsel Shamimur Rehman Malik.
Malik argued that a large number of doctors were present inside and outside the court and trying to intimidate him and his client.
At this, the court remarked, “Neither they (doctors) nor you (petitioner) can pressurize me. Justice will be done even if heaven falls.”
Continuing his arguments, Shamim Malik pointed out that the court had granted no time to prepare the case and his was extending his arguments only in pursuance of court’s order.
He said his client was being discriminated against as law of equality was not being observed in the case. He said it was a normal practice to issue notice at first instance in such cases. Due process of law was fundamental right of a citizen under the constitution but the same was being violated by taking up the case hurriedly, he said.
He said it had never happened before in the judicial history of Pakistan that a petition seeking cancellation of murder case was filed and decided by the court on the same day. He said a murder case could be cancelled only if no offence was committed or no incident took place at all but the doctors had not negated the fact the incident had taken place.
He said a man had lost his one and a half years old son due to criminal negligence of the doctors. He was of the view that, under Healthcare Commission Act 2010, a doctor could seek immunity from murder charges only if he did an act in discharge of official duty. In the instant case, they were on the strike and removed the drip of an ailing infant that caused his death.
At this juncture, Muhammad Afzal, father of the deceased, came forward and started weeping bitterly. He, however, gathered himself and requested the judge to transfer his case if justice was not done to him. The judge, however, heard him patiently.
Opposing the cancellation of the FIR, the prosecutor general said there was ample evidence against the accused doctors as witnesses had corroborated the story of prosecution in their statements recorded under section 161 of CrPC. He said a clerk of the hospital, Shafiq, had also confirmed that the occurrence had taken place.
He said an order for exhumation of the body had been secured from a magisterial court and the cause of death would be determined after the autopsy was carried out. He pointed out that it was not a stage to grant extra-ordinary relief of bail to accused doctors.
Additional advocate general Faisal Zaman Khan argued that the criminal proceedings could not be stopped as it would be amounted to stifling the investigation. He, however, maintained that the High Court was empowered to grant bail in writ jurisdiction under article 1999 of the Constitution.
Earlier, the doctors’ counsel pointed out that the facts of the FIR were maneuvered at the behest of the Punjab government to snub the movement of Young Doctors Association. They claimed that they had got immunity from legal proceedings under section 29 of “The Punjab Healthcare Commission Act 2010”.
They said prima facie no offence was made out as it was not the duty of doctors to put in or put out drips because it was the duty of paramedical staff.
After hearing lengthy arguments from all sides, the court allowed ad-interim bail to arrested doctors and issued notice to state for July 16.