Slamming the police for their failure to prevent the gruesome murder of a house surgeon, Vandana Das, at the Kottarakara taluk hospital, the Kerala High Court on Thursday said there can be little doubt that the killing of a doctor by a person in police custody, be that as an accused or in any other capacity, points to a systemic failure.
A 22-year-old woman doctor was stabbed to death by a police detainee who was brought for medical treatment by the police at the Government Taluk hospital Kottarakkara in Kollam district on early Wednesday morning.
At a special sitting of, a division bench of the high court comprising Justice Devan Ramachandran and Justice Kauser Edappagath asked where the police were when the accused was taken to the procedure room. How the police can justify the 11 stabs inflicted on the deceased?
“Where were the police when Sandeep was taken to the procedure room? Why no cop rush in to help Vandana when she was being attacked,” the court asked.
“As far as the incident in question is concerned, there can be little doubt that the killing of a doctor by a person in custody of police, be that as an accused or in any other capacity, points strongly at a systemic failure. The police officers were also ad idem that it is the fundamental duty of any officer to have guarded a citizen even at the cost of their own lives,” the court said.
Expressing anguish over the incident, Justice Devan Ramachandran said the system failed to protect the young doctor, who was at the cusp of her career.
The court said as per the preliminary information received it is clear that Dr. Vandana Das was alone in the Observation Room at a particular point of time and that opportunity was seized by the accused to stab her repeatedly.
“At 3 am in the morning, she was there to serve. She was serving the people. The system has failed her, her parents and us” the Court remarked.
“Even if a police officer lost his life, a doctor cannot be exposed since a doctor is not expected to face this kind of situation but a police officer is,” the bench said.
The bench directed the state Police Chief Anil Kant, who appeared online during the court proceedings, to come out with a new set of protocols for ensuring security of the doctors and other healthcare professionals in all government hospitals in the state. The court said that the priority must be to protect the doctors, healthcare professionals, students, interns, house surgeons and such others, or else the faith in the system will erode.
The court also directed the Police Department to carry on the investigation for the soul of the young doctor who lost her life diligently. “We are told that investigation for the soul of the young doctor who lost her life is going on, and we direct the state police chief to ensure that the investigation is carried on in her name faithfully, truly, and diligently,” the court said.