Organ Transplantation: Kerala High Court quashes case against Aster Medcity, 9 doctors accused of misconduct

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The Kerala High Court on Tuesday quashed the criminal case registered against Aster Medcity hospital and 9 doctors accused of flouting the protocols for organ transplantation [Aster Medcity & Ors. v State of Kerala & Anr.].

Justice Ziyad Rahman AA quashed the cases registered against the petitioners who were accused of committing offences punishable under several provisions of the Indian Penal Code as well as the Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Act, 1944.

The case against the hospital and others was registered on the basis of a complaint filed by a doctor and social activist, S Ganapathy.

The complaint alleged that Aster Medcity and the doctors practicing there did not adhere to the protocols prescribed for certifying brain death and harvesting organs for transplantation. The specific incident in question was alleged to have occurred in March of 2019 even though the complaint was filed in April 2021.

Subsequently, a Judicial First Class Magistrate Court in Ernakulam took cognisance of the case and issued summons to the petitioners.

The petitioners refuted the allegations in the complaint and the FIR contending that they are baseless and unsustainable.

They argued that the Magistrate had dealt with the case in a mechanical manner. Moreover, the complaint itself would be non-maintainable since the complainant had no locus standi to file it, they contended.

The petitioners also pointed out that in 2017, new guidelines were brought in by the Government of Kerala to create more transparency in brain stem death certification and the organ donation process in Kerala by making the presence of government doctors mandatory for the certification of brain stem deaths in the state’s hospitals.

All the appropriate protocols were followed in certifying brain death mentioned in the complaint, they submitted.

Justice Rahman allowed the petitions filed by the accused doctors as well as Aster Medcity, thereby quashing the proceedings in the criminal cases registered against them.

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