New Delhi: Cracking down on the practice of strategic hospital admission by politicians accused of crime, the Supreme Court has imposed a whopping fine of Rs 1.4 crore on two doctors from a hospital in Haryana's Gurgaon, next-door to Delhi. The hospital, the court said, had deliberately sheltered a politician accused of murder.
Balbir Singh, a former legislator of the opposition INLD (Indian National Lok Dal), had got admitted in Privat Hospital after the top court scrapped his bail plea on October 24, 2013 and asked him to surrender. The former legislator promptly got admitted at the Privat hospital. Ostensibly, he was receiving treatment for heart-related ailments. He was discharged 527 days (roughly 17 months) later - after considerable efforts.
The victim's family had approached the court, which ordered an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation. The report revealed that Mr Singh was not suffering from any serious disease. His stay at the hospital was only to evade arrest, the investigating agency said.
The politician was finally discharged on May 1, 2015, after the top court accused the hospital of protecting the accused and sought an explanation.
In December 2016, the court convicted Dr Munish Prabhakar and Dr KS Sachdev -- the two senior doctors of the hospital. They have now been asked to pay Rs 70 lakh each to the Supreme Court Registry. On July 6, the court will decide how to utilise the money to help the under-privileged.
Balbir Singh was accused of opening indiscriminate fire at a grain market in Rohtak in May 2013. One person had died and eight were injured in the firing. Initially, he had been given bail by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, but it was scrapped by the Supreme Court.
Mr Singh's party, the INLD, is known to have a support base among Jats. The party was last in power in 2000. In the run up to the 2014 assembly elections in Haryana, its leader Om Prakash Chautala, jailed on corruption charges, was accused of misusing bail granted for medical treatment. The leader, the Supreme Court said, had campaigned for the elections, addressing multiple rallies across Haryana.