Sexual advances or touching private parts of a patient by a doctor during clinical examination are "grave breach of trust" and unacceptable, the Delhi high court has said.
The court's observations came while dismissing a plea of a homoeopathic doctor against the award of 18 months' jail term, besides a fine of Rs 20,000, for touching private parts of a girl who had gone to seek medical help for insomnia, headache and skin disease on May 23, 2007.
"A physician, being in a position of trust and power, has a duty to act in the patient's best interest. To maintain trust, a physician must avoid making sexual advances. Sexual advances or inappropriate touching of a patient by a medical practitioner is a grave breach of trust and an offence under Section 354 of the IPC of the gravest form. Such a conduct from a medical practitioner is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated," justice GP Mittal said.
The court refused to release on probation convict Madan Mohan Gupta, who had cited an apex court verdict granting relief to KPS Gill, former director general of police (DGP), Punjab, who was also convicted under Section 354 (outraging modesty of woman).
"It is true that subsequently in Kanwar Pal Singh (case)... the benefit of the Probation of Offenders Act was given to the convict... However, the act of the convict in that case and the strata to which the complainant belonged and the facts of the instant case are entirely different," the court said.
"The accused had just slapped the posterior of a lady IAS officer, while in the instant case, the revisionist had touched the private parts and breasts of a patient," it said.
The court said Parliament had recently amended the penal provision and made it "non-bailable" and hence, the award of jail term of 18 months to the doctor cannot be said to be "disproportionate".