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SC slams ‘medical asylum’, indicts doctors for sheltering tainted minister

Private hospitals providing “medical asylum” to people evading court or jail will face the heat.

india Updated: Dec 22, 2016 01:23 IST
Bhadra Sinha
Supreme Court, in New Delhi on Tuesday. Photograph: Sunil Saxena/HT 18.09.2007 October2009
Supreme Court, in New Delhi on Tuesday. Photograph: Sunil Saxena/HT 18.09.2007 October2009

Private hospitals providing “medical asylum” to people evading court or jail will face the heat. The Supreme Court held two doctors of Gurugram-based Private hospital guilty of contempt for helping former Indian National Lok Dal MLA from Meham, Balbir Singh aka Bali Pahalwan, evade jail in a murder case.

A CBI probe found that the murder accused was admitted to the hospital on 47 occasions when he was to be in jail. During his admission, he was allowed to move out of the hospital without any medical professional justifying such movement. The INLD leader never paid the hospital for his 527-day stay, investigation revealed.

A bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur directed the former MLA, Dr Munish Prabhakar and Dr KS Sachdev, to appear before the court on January 2 to face the proceedings.

Balbir was charged with kidnapping and murdering a businessman named Vishnu in Haryana’s Rohtak district on May 6, 2011. The Punjab and Haryana high court granted him bail but the top court cancelled it on October 24, 2013, after the victim’s brother challenged it. Balbir had to surrender as per SC directive.

The trial court issued non-bailable warrants for his arrest on five occasions — between November 2013 and May 2014. However, there was no response to any one of them.

Vishnu’s lawyer Rishi Malhotra said he filed a contempt petition against Balbir. A CBI probe was ordered into the failure of the local police to arrest the accused. The inquiry indicted the hospital and doctors, revealing Balbir remained in hospital for 527 days.

“Nothing has been placed on record, nor any medical condition or reasons have been adverted to why such admission was required in the first place,” the court noted.

The bench said, “This shows that the illness as projected was not serious at all and no intensive treatment as indoor patient was required or called for.” There was total inaction on part of the police that helped Balbir evade his arrest and defeated the court orders. The bench slammed the police for its administrative failure and callous attitude.

Balbir underwent no laboratory test, the CBI submitted before the court, and said there was no reason to keep him as an indoor patient. There was a regular stream of visitors during his stay in the hospital.