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A decision taken in good faith is not a crime. Defenses are available to the doctors under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 88, 92 and 93.
- Section 88. Act not unintended to cause death, done by consent in good faith for person’s benefit: Nothing, which is not intended to cause death, is an offence by reason of any harm which it may cause, or be intended by the doer to cause, or be known by the doer to be likely to cause, to any person for whose benefit it is done in good faith, and who has given a consent, whether express or implied, to suffer that harm, or to take the risk of that harm.
The illustration along with this section is: “A, a surgeon, knowing that a particular operation is likely to cause the death of Z, who suffers under a painful complaint, but not intending to cause Z’s death and intending in good faith, Z’s benefit, performs that operation on Z, with Z’s consent. A has committed no offence”.
- Section 92. Act done in good faith for benefit of a person without consent: Nothing is an offence by reason of any harm which it may cause to a person for whose benefit it is done in good faith, even without that person’s consent, if the circumstances are such that it is impossible for that person to signify consent, or if that person is incapable of giving consent, and has no guardian or other person in lawful charge of him from whom it is possible to obtain consent in time for the thing to be done with benefit.
The illustration along with this section is: Z is thrown from his horse, and is insensible. A, a surgeon, finds that Z requires to be trepanned. A, not intending Z’s death, but in good faith, for Z’s benefit, performs the trepan before Z recovers his power of judging for himself. A has committed no offence. A, a surgeon, sees a child suffer an accident which is likely to prove fatal unless an operation be immediately performed. There is no time to apply to the child’s guardian. A, performs the operation in spite of the entreaties of the child, intending, in good faith, the child’s benefit. A committed no offence.
- Section 93. Communication made in good faith. No communication made in good faith is an offence by reason of any harm to the person to whom it is made, if it is made for the benefit of that person. Illustration A, a surgeon, in good faith, communicates to a patient his opinion that he cannot live. The patient dies in consequence of the shock. A has committed no offence, though he knew it to be likely that the communication might cause the patient’s death.