The Dharwad bench of Karnataka High Court recently noted that an illicit relationship of a spouse cannot be proved by securing his/her private medical records. The court set aside a family court order summoning medical records in a divorce case.
Justice NS Gowda stated, “If this approach is to be accepted, (then) it would amount to destruction of the entire concept of doctor-patient confidentiality and drag the doctor into a marital dispute.”
The High Court bench quashed the March 30, 2021 order passed by a family court in Dharwad. The order was passed in connection to the husband’s petition seeking summoning doctor to provide the medical records of his wife over adulterous relationship allegations.
The husband had alleged that his wife was having an illicit relationship and got pregnant. He had sought medical records of his wife to prove his contention.
The trial court allowed his application mainly on the grounds that there was no question of the hospital authorities maintaining secrecy in respect of the medical records of spouses.
Challenging the family court order in High Court, the wife contended that medical records of a person are absolutely private to the person and the same cannot be sought by any person.
“The power to direct a medical practitioner to act in violation of his declaration should be exercised only for strong and compelling reasons and would more or less be exercised only when an element of public interest was involved,” noted Justice Gowda.
The High Court bench noted that medical records of an individual are private and are not for public consumption.
“A direction to the medical practitioner to produce the records or divulge information he is privy to would amount to infringing upon the fundamental right of privacy guaranteed to an individual, which emanates from the ‘right to life’ granted under Article 21 of the Constitution,” the bench observed.