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We want you to be acquainted with both sides of the coin
  Editor (March, 2009 issue)

The February issue has invoked a very interesting query from many of our subscribers – On the one hand the cover page boldly declares, “Landmark judgment of the Supreme Court - Welcome relief to Doctors” but Note 4 (page n7) states that “Supreme Court reiterates its viewpoint on medical negligence – Nothing new”. Why this contradiction? What is the truth?

Your questions are logical. The answer lies in the fact that law is capable of different interpretations, at times diametrically opposite. Law develops this way. Therefore, different interpretations of a judgment are possible.

In this particular case (Dr. Martin F. D’souza v/s Mohd. Ishfaq) the editorial team was of the opinion that the directions of the Supreme Court to the Consumer Courts, not to issue notice to doctors in cases of medical negligence without a proper medical opinion, was a landmark. In fact all the newspapers in India termed this judgment as a landmark. But Advocate Aman Vachher, who is a very reputed and respected lawyer in the Supreme Court, held a different opinion and his justifications were very logical and in accordance with the law. The fact remains that not only in this case, but in many others, consumer courts were usually seeking opinion on clinical issues. Thus, practically, there was nothing new. Hence his viewpoint was published, although it was contradictory to the views held by the editorial team.

One of the basic principles of journalism is to bring forth both sides of a debate. We have humbly attempted to follow this principle. It is for you to independently assess both the propositions and draw a conclusion.

There is one more request. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (Government of India) has drafted The National Health Bill, 2009, and is seeking suggestions from the public on the same. This piece of legislation directly affects doctors and some provisions are very harsh to them. All of you must read, discuss, and give suggestions on this Bill, so that appropriate amendments can be carried out and the interest of the medical fraternity in India can be safeguarded. You can directly download this Bill from: http://mohfw.nic.in/nrhm/Draft_Health_Bill/General/Draft_National_Bill.pdf

Mahendra Bajpai
Advocate Supreme Court of India

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