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Criminal Trial of 17 ex-members of West Bengal Medical Council to Start on 10th December, 2013 on a “Day-to-Day” basis

The unprecedented criminal trial of 17 doctor-members of the previous West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) is set to begin on a “day-to-day” basis from 10th December, 2013 as directed this week by the 8th Metropolitan Magistrate of the Bankshall Court in Kolkata (see Order below).  This case stems from the wrongful death of Anuradha Saha who died during a social visit to India in 1998 from gross medical negligence by three senior Kolkata doctors (Sukumar Mukherjee, Baidyanath Halder and late Abani Roychowdhury).  But the 17 members of then WBMC hatched a conspiracy behind closed doors to acquit the three doctors from all charges of medical negligence.  These 17 members are eminent physicians of West Bengal including then council president Dr. Ashok Chowdhury, cancer specialist and present head of radio-therapy at R.G. Kar Medical College Prof. Subir Ganguly and then director of medical education Dr. C.R. Maiti.

After the trial court took cognizance of serious allegations of “criminal conspiracy” (under IPC Section 120b) and “screening offenders” (under IPC Section 201) in 2011, the accused doctors jointly moved Calcutta High Court seeking to quash the criminal case under Section 482 CrPC.  On 1st July, 2013, Justice Aniruddha Bose of Calcutta High Court dismissed the quashing petition and directed all accused doctors to stand trial at Bankshall Court.  As the key witness in this historic case, Dr. Kunal Saha, Anuradha’s husband and PBT president, came down to India from his permanent place of residence in USA and appeared before the trial court in August, 2013 for recording of his evidence but he eventually had to return to USA after the accused doctors sought adjournments on one ground and another.  However, Dr. Saha moved a new petition for expedited justice and learned Magistrate passed an order directing that Dr. Saha’s evidence will be recorded starting 10th December, 2013 on a “day-to-day” basis.  Dr. Saha will come down to India once again to appear before the Bankshall Court for the beginning of this extraordinary trial of almost the entire body of the previous medical council which may have far-reaching consequences on the healthcare regulatory system in India.

Bankshall Court Order (Sept, 2013) day-to-day trial

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