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Analysis of White Collar Crimes In Medical Profession

Introduction


White Collar crimes, more precisely also called the corporate crimes, are crimes committed by the educated and the professional elites during their occupation. These crimes are characterized by deceit, concealment, or violation of trust and are not dependent upon the application or threat of physical force or violence. These are against society at large, committed under the garb of being honest citizens. These crimes can be classified as a large variety of commercial transactions committed by people of questionable ethics.

The term ‘White Collar Crime’ was first defined by the sociologist Edwin H Sutherland in 1939 as a “crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of their occupation”.





White Collar Crimes in India


The Supreme Court explained the gravity of white-collar crimes in India in the case of State of Gujarat v. Mohan Lal Jitamalji Porwal and Anr. (AIR 1987 SC 1321) wherein it categorically stated that “the country has seen an alarming rise in white-collar crimes which has affected the fibre of the country’s economic structure. These cases are nothing but private gain at the cost of the public and lead to economic disaster”.

The ambit of white-collar crimes in India ranges from bribery, blackmailing, credit card frauds, fraud over phone calls, cybercrime, money laundering, tax evasion, embezzlement, among many others. In India, these crimes are so widespread that it does not confine itself to a specific area but have also diffused to various professions viz. legal, medical, engineering, education, and the corporate sector. To put it simply, white-collar crimes have engulfed the entire society within its orbit.

Every profession has its model rules, ethics, and code of conduct that govern the working of the professional. These professional ethics set boundaries for the systematic functioning of the professional and they must comply with them. Non-compliance may or may not be a crime but questions the very essence of the profession.

There has been an increasing trend of crimes being committed by professionals to obtain personal or business advantage. Crooks and unethical persons exist in various professions, tending to become unscrupulous because of the thirst for gaining more and more for themselves. It not only welcomes disrepute to the profession but also affecting the society at large.


White-collar crimes in the Medical fraternity.


In the medical fraternity, the commonly committed white-collar crimes are issuing false medical certificates, unnecessarily prolonged treatment in many cases with a view of extracting huge sums from patients. Health care fraud also includes altered or fabricated medical bills, excessive unnecessary treatments, exaggerating medical disability. These are some of the petty offences but few practitioners voluntarily involve themselves in the act of practising medicine without a proper qualification, carrying out abortions illegally, performing female foeticide, trading in organs, among others, etc. These acts fall under the category of heinous offences committed with the sole purpose of monetary gain.

In most situations, medical practitioners prescribe branded medicines, which bear the exorbitant cost when compared to generic medicines. The difference between branded and generic medicines is only based on the costs at which they are sold and there stands no disparity in their chemical compositions. Even though the actual costs of medicines are affordable, medical facilities become inaccessible to a very large portion of the Indian masses who cannot afford branded medicines, unaware of the same medicine being available at inexpensive prices.

The irony is that the generic medicines that are inaccessible to our Indian masses are exported worldwide!

Legal Analysis.

Any of the abovementioned acts committed in violation of either the laws or the ethics that govern medical practitioners are punishable and special laws are thereby enacted to implement the respective penalty. Some of the acts that govern the wrongdoings of medical practitioners are as follows:

  • The Indian Penal Code, 1860 (cheating and forgery)

  • Indian Medical Council Act, 1954

  • Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940

  • The Drugs and Magic Remedies, 1954

  • The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971

  • Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994

Since such violators are usually ‘upper class’ and respected persons in their communities, the legal and judicial procedures utilized for control purposes are frequently other than the action in the criminal courts. Most frequently used are hearings before the regulatory bodies, civil suits for damages, and various other procedures outside of criminal court prosecution and conviction.


Conclusion


Considered to be the noblest of all, the medical profession is not free from the clutches of white-collar crimes and it not only questions the ethics of the fraternity as a whole but also poses a question at the future of the profession. When the masses have faith and belief in the medical practitioner, does it ethically befit the medical practitioners to make profits at the cost of lives?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Krishna Thakkar is currently pursuing law at Pravin Gandhi College of Law.

They can be contacted at kthakkar1523@gmail.com

Edited By: Swathi. Ashok. Nair

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