In a historic verdict that may have far-reaching implications on all future cases including cases of “medical negligence”, Division bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice Asim Banerjee of Calcutta High Court dismissed an appeal filed by West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) today which prevented “live” internet videoconferencing from USA to allow PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, to appear “in person” for conducting cases. The division bench said that they were puzzled as to why the state medical council opted to filed an appeal challenging a single-judge’s decision to permit Dr. Saha to participate to argue cases from his permanent place of residence in USA, especially when the cost for the videoconferencing was paid by Dr. Saha himself. The case before learned single Judge, Justice Aniruddha Bose, involved cancellation of medical license of Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee, a senior Kolkata doctor who was held guilty for causing death of Dr. Saha’s wife, Anuradha Saha, by the Supreme Court in 2009.
The Medical Council of India (MCI) also found Dr Mukherjee guilty for medical negligence and directed to suspend his medical registration in 2011. But Dr. Mukherjee moved a writ petition challenging the MCI order and managed to obtain a stay from Calcutta HC. Dr. Saha also filed a separate writ petition seeking enhancement of Dr. Mukherjee period of suspension. The issue of “live” videoconferencing from USA came up in the course of these two writ petitions before Justice Bose who allowed Dr. Saha to use the technology of videoconferencing to participate in the court proceedings from USA. However, WBMC filed an appeal challenging the single-judge order granting videoconferencing and obtained a stay forcing Dr. Saha to take frequent trips from USA to fight these cases. The final judgment passed by Chief Justice and Justice Mr. Banerjee today is likely to pave the way for speedy trial not only for Dr. Saha but also for countless other justice-seekers from distant places to find equitable justice. Incidentally, the final judgment in the two writ petitions involving cancellation of medical registration of Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee will be delivered tomorrow, August 8, 2014.