The Kerala High Court on Tuesday held that a doctor’s consultation room in a hospital is not a “public place” in terms of Section 294(b) of the IPC while quashing a harassment case against a doctor.
The police booked the doctor under section 294 (b) and 354A of the IPC.
Justice Kauser Edappagath observed that Section 294(b) of the IPC is attracted when the offender sings, recites or utters any obscene song or words in or about any public place to the annoyance of others.
“If the act is not obscene, or if it is not done in a public place, or if the song recited or said is not in or around a public place or if it does not cause annoyance to others, no crime is committed,” said the judge.
He also stated that the scene was a doctor’s consultation room in a hospital.
“It can never be designated as a public place or a nearby public place. Further, to satisfy the definition of obscenity to attract section 294(b) of the IPC, the words uttered must be capable of inducing thoughts of impure sex in the minds of its hearers. [See Sangeetha Lakshmana v. State of Kerala (2008 (2) KLT 745)]. It is not the case of the prosecution that the words allegedly uttered by the petitioner evoke in the minds of the listeners thoughts of impure sex. In these circumstances, I am of the view that the basic ingredients of Section 294(b) of the IPC are not attracted,” the court said.
The Court further held that a perusal of the First Information Document shows that none of the ingredients of Section 354A is attracted.
“Consequently, there will be no purpose in proceeding against the applicant”, he said, while canceling the procedure pending before the court.
The case was registered in 2017 against a pediatrician practicing at TM Hospital.
The complainant’s child was a patient of the doctor. In June 2017, the woman took her child to the hospital for treatment. She alleged that the doctor, while attending to the child, misbehaved with her, “pointing her obscene act with her finger and speaking obscene words against her.”
According to the statement given by the complainant, the child was bleeding almost a week after being circumcised in the hospital. When the doctor was examining the baby in his consulting room, he allegedly became angry and “hurled obscene words” at her when “the baby peed.”
Advocate CP Udayabhanu and Navneeth N. Nath it appeared on behalf of the doctor earlier that even if all the allegations of the FIS are believed in their entirety along with the materials collected in the investigation, no offense under Section 294(b) and 354.A of the IPC could be committed.
Prosecutors Sangeetha Raj appeared on behalf of the respondents.
Case Title: Dr. KK Ramachandran v. Sub Inspector of Police & Anr.
Quote: 2022 LiveLaw (Ker) 668
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