The Need of Amendment in 304-a of Indian Penal Code

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By R. VINOBA SELVANDURAI, GUEST LECTURER, GOVERNMENT LAW COLLEGE, THIRUNELVELI The dawn of third millennium has seen many ups and downs in human relations. There have been many turbulent changes in the society. This has not spared even doctor-patient relationship. The rapid changes in the medical field have strained the age-old good relations between the patient and the treating physician or surgeon. Criminal law is applicable to all individuals and doctors are no exception to it. As far as medical practice is concerned patients or relatives usually don’t approach the police. But now-a-days this scenario is also changing. In last few decades as doctor patient relationship has deteriorated, the complaints against doctors have increased (1). According to the provisions of Indian Penal Code 1860 (IPC), any act of commission or omission is not a crime unless it is accompanied by a guilty mind (MENS REA). The acts are not punishable only because it led to some mischievous results unless associated with intention or mental attitude of the person. Most of the times doctors treatment is in good faith, with the consent of the patient and hence most of the provisions of IPC are not applicable to the doctors unless or until there is rashness or gross negligence. The following Sections of IPC are related to medical profession (2): Sec. 304-A Deals with death caused by a negligent act.

Sec. 336-338 Deals with causing hurt by rash or negligent act. Section 304 and 304-A
There is lot of discrepancy while applying these sections in cases of professional negligence by doctors and drivers. Most of the times, the police authorities register cases of professional negligence deaths under Sec 304 of IPC. According to this Section the offence is non-bailable. This causes lot of hardship, bad reputation and mental agony to the doctors. In fact the police should register the cases of deaths due to medical negligence under Sec....
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