In a historic order that may have far-reaching consequences in the future of the justice delivery system in India, Calcutta High Court today passed an order allowing Dr. Kunal Saha, PBT president, to participate in the court proceedings through “Internet Videoconferencing” using high-speed web services (e.g. Skype) from his permanent place of residence in USA (see Order below). Dr. Saha was in Kolkata to argue in person a case for “criminal defamation” (under IPC Section 500) that he filed against retired Calcutta High Court judge, Mr. Gora Chand De. Since the hearings were delayed, Dr. Saha appealed that he may be allowed to attend future hearings via Internet videoconferencing as his physical presence in the Kolkata court was causing great difficulty for him. The Calcutta High Court allowed his plea.
This historic criminal case against a retired HC judge stems from the wrongful death of Dr. Saha’s wife, Anuradha Saha, who died from gross medical negligence by three senior Kolkata doctors (Sukumar Mukherjee, Baidyanath Halder and Abani Roychowdhury) during a social visit to Kolkata in 1998. After a trial court in Kolkata convicted two doctors for “criminal negligence”, then a HC judge, G.C. De, not only acquitted the three doctors from all charges of medical negligence, he also made highly defamatory comments against the victim’s husband, Dr. Saha including that Dr. Saha was actually responsible for his wife’s death and that his lawsuits were aimed in bringing the evils of American Insurance Companies to the soil of India. Dr. Saha appealed De’s decision before the Apex Court. The Supreme Court held all three doctors (plus one Dr. Balaram Prasad and AMRI Hospital) guilty for medical negligence and responsible for Anuradha’s death. Although the criminal case against the three doctors were dismissed by the Apex Court on the ground of “cumulative negligence”, Supreme Court severely criticized De’s observations against Dr. Saha following which Dr. Saha lodged a case for “criminal defamation” against now retired Justice Mr. De. The Calcutta High Court has already issued a “notice” against De who has still not appeared in the court.