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Doctor’s License Cannot Be Suspended By Court As Penalty In Contempt Proceedings:
Supreme Court of India Rules Against Suspending Doctor’s License in Contempt Proceedings
In a significant ruling, the Supreme Court of India has declared that a medical practitioner’s license cannot be suspended as a penalty in contempt proceedings. The division bench, comprising Justice B R Gavai and Justice Sanjay Karol, asserted that contempt of court and professional misconduct are distinct offenses regulated by different laws.
The case in question arose from an appeal filed against a division bench’s judgment in the Calcutta High Court. The appellant’s medical license was suspended as a penalty in contempt proceedings related to unauthorized construction deviating from sanctioned plans by the Siliguri Municipal Corporation.
The Supreme Court highlighted the separation of powers, emphasizing that contempt of court jurisdiction lies within the purview of the Contempt of Court Act, 1971, while the National Medical Commission Act, 2019, governs the issuance, regulation, and suspension of medical licenses. The Court acknowledged the comprehensive mechanism outlined in the latter Act for revoking medical licenses in cases of professional misconduct, ensuring a fair hearing for practitioners before any decision is made.
The ruling reaffirmed the importance of judicious and sparing use of the power of contempt by courts. It was stressed that such power exists solely to uphold the integrity of the judicial system and should not be influenced by hypersensitivity or emotions.
Additionally, the Court clarified that the Contempt of Courts Act only allows for fines and simple imprisonment as punishment for contempt, ruling that suspending a doctor’s license goes beyond the scope of the Act.
The Apex Court, therefore, set aside the orders of both the division bench and single bench, reviving the appellant’s medical license to practice medicine.
The case title is Gostho Behari Das V. Dipak Kumar Sanyal & Ors, Civil Appeal No. 4725 Of 2023, and the citation is 2023 LiveLaw (SC) 577; 2023 INSC 653.