Controversy Surrounding New Medical Negligence Laws: Doctors’ Day Developments

On July 1st, 2024, coinciding with Doctors’ Day, the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) was introduced, replacing the Indian Penal Code (IPC). This new legislation has stirred significant controversy within the medical community, primarily due to its mandatory punishment provisions for medical negligence.

Key Changes in the Law

  1. Previous IPC 304A:
    • Under IPC 304A, medical negligence was a cognizable offense with penalties including imprisonment for up to two years, a fine, or both. However, imprisonment was not mandatory.
  2. New BNS Section 106:
    • BNS Section 106 replaces IPC 304A and mandates imprisonment of up to two years for doctors found guilty of medical negligence during medical procedures, along with fines. This change specifically targets registered medical practitioners.

Medical Community’s Reaction

The new law has sparked significant discontent among doctors, who argue that these mandatory jail terms are unfair and fail to consider the complexities of medical practice. Several key voices in the medical community have expressed their concerns:

  • Dr. Babu KV, RTI Activist: Dr. Babu KV highlighted the harshness of the new law on social media, referring to it as a “gift” to doctors on Doctors’ Day and urging them to practice responsibly.
  • Dr. Arun Gupta, President of Delhi Medical Council: Dr. Gupta criticized the new law for specifically targeting modern medicine practitioners and making jail terms mandatory. He raised concerns about the lack of protection for doctors handling critically ill patients.
  • Dr. Vivek Pandey, Activist: Dr. Pandey strongly opposed the new law, arguing that it undermines patient care and discourages critical decision-making in emergencies due to the fear of legal repercussions.

Indian Medical Association’s (IMA) Stand

The IMA has taken a firm stand against the new legislation. In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the association emphasized that medical negligence should not be treated as a criminal act since there is no criminal intent involved (mens rea). The IMA pointed out that Union Home Minister Amit Shah had acknowledged in Parliament that death during treatment should not be treated as murder.

Call for Reconsideration

The IMA has called for a reconsideration of the new laws, proposing that cases of alleged medical negligence should be reviewed by an expert committee. They suggest implementing procedures similar to those in some state governments, which involve district and state-level bodies for reviewing such cases. This would provide a fair and thorough review process, ensuring that doctors are not unjustly penalized.

Impact on Medical Practice

The mandatory punishment provisions in the new BNS legislation have created apprehension among doctors, potentially deterring them from performing high-risk procedures. The fear of legal consequences might lead to a decrease in the willingness of doctors to take on challenging cases, ultimately affecting the quality of healthcare.


The introduction of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) on Doctors’ Day has brought significant changes to how medical negligence is treated legally. While the intent behind the law might be to ensure accountability, the medical community argues that it fails to acknowledge the complexities of medical practice and unfairly targets doctors. The call for a review of the new laws is a crucial step towards ensuring that doctors can perform their duties without the constant fear of legal repercussions, thereby maintaining the quality of healthcare in the country.

As this issue unfolds, healthcare professionals need to stay informed about the legal landscape and advocate for fair and just treatment in cases of medical negligence. The IMA’s efforts to engage with the government highlight the need for a balanced approach that protects both patients and healthcare providers.

To register for our next masterclass please click here

Melbourne, Australia
(Sat - Thursday)
(10am - 05 pm)