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KARACHI: As two doctors of the Darul Sehat Hospital escaped after dismissal of their pre-arrest bail applications by a sessions court, the Sindh High Court on Friday ordered unsealing of the hospital which had been embroiled in a controversy due to the death of nine-month-old Nashwa.

A single bench of the SHC headed by Justice Junaid Ghaffar suspended till May 24 the order of the Sindh Health Care Commission (SHCC) regarding sealing the hospital after Nashwa’s death.

The management of the hospital, through its lawyers, moved the SHC arguing that the entire action taken against it by the commission was without jurisdiction and lawful authority.

Their counsel submitted that twin sisters Nashwa Ali and Umasha Ali were brought to the hospital on April 4 with complaints of vomiting and presenting symptoms of dehydration.

Umasha was discharged after treatment, but a mishap occurred while providing treatment to Nashwa apparently due to wrong dosage injected by the nursing staff and later the patient expired, the counsel said.

Two hospital doctors escape after sessions court rejects bail pleas

They submitted that after conducting unilateral inquiry, the commission issued its report on April 23 and made five recommendations including disciplinary proceedings against the staff concerned, imposition of Rs500,000 fine on the hospital, termination of the services of the recruitment in charge, certain directions in respect of the nursing staff and asked the management of the hospital to constitute a “code blue” team as per international recommendations.

The counsel maintained that under the law, these recommendations were to be put up before the relevant board of the SHCC for approval and further action. However, they argued that the plaintiff made compliance with such recommendations, but notwithstanding such compliance, the impugned order of sealing the hospital had been passed.

The lawyers further argued that there was no proper order on record about the sealing as it was a handwritten note on the memorandum of sealing, which stated that the action had been taken in compliance with the order issued by the health minister.

They contended that there was no provision in the law for a minister to exercise any such powers and even the commission itself had no such powers except under Section 18 of the Sindh Healthcare Commission Act 2013 which, they claimed, was not applicable in the present matter.

They pleaded for suspension of the sealing order.

Justice Ghaffar observed that the contentions raised by the counsel required consideration and issued notices to the SHCC and other defendants as well as the advocate general for May 24.

The bench further said that the impugned order of sealing the hospital would remain suspended till the next hearing.

However, the court directed plaintiff to comply with the recommendations made by the commission on April 23.

Two doctors escape

Additional District and Sessions Judge (East) Mohammad Aslam Shaikh on Friday took up the interim bail applications for confirmation of Darul Sehat Hospital’s chief medical officer Dr Sharjeel Husain and resident medical officer Dr Atiya Ahmed. Both of them were present in court along with their counsel.

The judge dismissed the applications and recalled the order of granting them interim pre-arrest bail against a surety bond of Rs300,000 each on April 25.

Judicial staff said as soon as the judge announced the order, both of them left the courtroom and easily escaped in the presence of policemen.

In the order, the judge noted that the applicants had been nominated in a further statement of the complainant and the record of the case showed that the negligence on part of the applicants and the person concerned started from wrongly injecting the toddler through the staff of the Darul Sehat Hospital.

Therefore, the same attitude of negligence and ignorance continued till the baby was discharged from the hospital on April 14 in critical condition.

The judge noted that the post-mortem/medical report supported the version of the complainant in connection with the negligence.

He added that after the death of the toddler the nature of the offence had changed and the grant of pre-arrest bail may affect the merits of the investigation.

He noted that apparently Dr Husain and Dr Ahmed failed to perform their professional duties at the time of the incident being the CMO and RMO and also failed to supervise the emergency situation in a professional manner.

He said it came on record that the hospital had no facility to deal with paediatric emergencies.

Assistant district public prosecutor Ayaz Shahid opposed the confirmation of the bail applications and submitted that after obtaining pre-arrest bail Dr Husain had not joined the investigation.

Advocate Muneer Ahmed Gilal for the complainant also opposed the requests for bail confirmation and pleaded to recall the interim bail since the nature of the case changed after the death of the minor child.

In the bail pleas, the defence counsel Mushtaq Ahmed Awan and Syed Israr Ali Shaikh argued that the complaint lodged the case against the applicants with mala fide intention and ulterior motives. They further argued that the FIR was lodged after a considerable delay.

Published in Dawn, May 4th, 2019