Delhi high court on Thursday said sexual advances towards a patient by a doctor during clinical examination are "grave breach of trust" and is unacceptable.
Dismissing a plea of a homoeopathic doctor against the award of 18 months jail term for touching private parts of a girl who had gone to seek medical help for insomnia, headache and skin disease on May 23, 2007, justice GP Mittal said "there is relationship of faith and trust between a doctor and the patient. A medical practitioner is expected after taking the Hippocratic oath to maintain the essence of fiduciary relationship between a physician and his patient. The physician has a duty to act in patient's best interest and to refrain from exploiting patient."
"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 IPC of gravest form. Such a conduct from a medical practitioner is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated," Justice Mittal said.
The court refused to release convict Madan Mohan Gupta on probation who had cited an apex court verdict granting relief to KPS Gill, ex-DGP of Punjab, convicted under the same section of 354 (outraging modesty of woman) under IPC.
"It is true that subsequently in Kanwar Pal Singh..., the benefit of 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 to and the facts of the instant case are entirely different.
"As stated earlier, in Rupan Deol Bajaj, 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 the breasts of a patient," it said.
The court said that the Parliament has 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".
Dismissing the convict doctor’s plea, it said, "Respecting the fiduciary relationship and the trust of the patient is a cornerstone of the ethical physician's practice. When a patient seeks care from a physician, the patient trusts that the physician is a professional and as such will treat them in a professional manner."