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Doctor awarded social punishment for fraud
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 14
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has awarded “social punishment” for a “fraud” committed by a doctor. It has asked the doctor to “re-compensate” the society he “deceived” by paying Rs 5 lakh for buying medicines for the poor.

This is, perhaps, the first time the High Court has prescribed such a stiff dose. The doctor took admission in the medical course under the reserved category even though he didn’t belong to it.

The judgment comes at a time when the concept of “social punishment” is catching up in the West as an alternative to criminal proceedings for preventing those in conflict with law from turning into hardened criminals after serving a jail sentence. Though “social punishment” has been ordered in some cases here also, the offences involved are not serious in nature.

The first-of-its-kind judgment by Justice Ranjit Singh came on a petition filed by Dr Jagtar Singh against Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtak, and another respondent against the cancellation of his degree on the grounds of wrongly obtaining admission in MBBS in the Scheduled Caste category in 1984.

Belonging to the Magh community, Jagtar Singh got admission in the university after obtaining a certificate to show he belonged to Megh, a caste included in the list of Scheduled Castes. Justice Ranjit Singh asserted: “No useful purpose would be served now to cancel or withdraw the degree… The cancellation of degree, as ordered, would only lead to waste of money spent to train the petitioner as doctor. Even otherwise the respondents have woken up too late and have raked up the issue after 28 years of the alleged incident of fake admission….

“Social punishment is called for as the petitioner cannot be permitted to walk away with the feeling that his fraudulent act has harmed him in no manner…. The petitioner can be saddled with some social punishment and what can be a better way for a doctor to show remorse and repentance than do some service towards the ailing and sick lying in the hospital.

“Let the petitioner deposit Rs 5 lakh with PGIMS, Rohtak, where he got admission on wrong certificate. It can be used for buying medicines for needy and poor patients. This amount may not be a sufficient solace for poor needy patients, but may serve as reminder to those who choose to violate law. The petitioner, in addition, would deposit Rs 25,000 as cost of petition.”

Bitter Pill

This is, perhaps, the first time the high court has prescribed a dosage of fine of Rs 5 lakh for buying medicines for the poor as therapy for the “fraudulent” act of the doctor in taking admission in the medical course under the SC category without belonging to it





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