⦿ CASE SUMMARY OF:
Dr. E.O.A. Denloye v. Medical and Dental Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (1968) – SC
Principle of natural justice;
Recalling of evidence/witnesses;
Administrative panel to try criminal cases;
Dr. E.O.A. Denloye
Medical And Dental Practitioners Disciplinary Committee
⦿ LEAD JUDGEMENT DELIVERED BY:
⦿ LAWYERS WHO ADVOCATED
* FOR THE APPELLANT
* FOR THE RESPONDENT
The Appellant was charged, “that you, Emmanual Oladipo Akinwunmi Denloye, being a fully registered medical practitioner within the meaning of the Medical and Dental Practitioners Act 1963, at the General Hospital Shagamu, between 29th June, 1966 and 10th July, 1966 did in a prolong manner neglect one Falilatu Bisiriyu, a patient very seriously ill and for whose treatment you were responsible under the service of the Ministry of Health, Western Nigeria, and that in relation to the facts alleged above you have been guilty of infamous conduct in a professional respect.”
The complaint against Dr. Denloye was that when the woman Falilatu Bisiriyu who was seriously ill with abdominal pain was brought to him for treatment, a sum of 10 guineas was collected by him and some treatment was prescribed. As the pain continued and her people approached the practitioner for further assistance for the patient, he again demanded another 10 guineas. At no time did Dr. Denloye do something positive to assure himself of the diagnosis; he got the patient prepared for an examination under anaesthetic (E.U.A. as it is called) but this examination was never performed. The second 10 guineas was meanwhile collected. Then Dr. Denloye got the patient to the theatre for a laparatomy. The operation was performed and when the abdomen was opened the doctor called the father of the patient to the theatre and told him it was a serious case of pregnancy which the patient had not disclosed. He asked for another 10 guineas. The father left the theatre in tears and approached some relations who ran all over the place for the amount which was collected and handed to the doctor, who had threatened to do nothing more for the patient until his demands were met. As the condition of the patient deteriorated, the father asked that she should be transferred to the University Hospital at Ibadan. This was refused and the father had to threaten the doctor with a matchet before a note was given to him for the Hospital authorities. A few days after admission into the University Hospital, the patient died.
The appellant however denied all these charges.
⦿ HOLDING & RATIO DECIDENDI
The Supreme Court struck out the decision of the Medical and Dental practitioners tribunal.
i. In effect where the unprofessional conduct of the practitioner amounts to a crime, it is a matter for the courts to deal with; and once the court has found a practitioner guilty of an offence, if it comes within the type of cases referred to in section 13(1)(b), then the Tribunal may proceed to deal with him under the Act. In view of all these, we have come to the conclusion that the Tribunal was wrong to have proceeded to try offences punishable under the Criminal Code and the proceedings in this respect are null and void.
ii. Here, we must hold that the circumstances surrounding the taking of evidence on 7th August 1967 and the subsequent conduct of the Panel in regard to the evidence and unfortunately the withholding of the evidence by the Tribunal until such time as it was released constitute a denial of justice to the appellant. Surely the appellant in the present case was entitled to know the nature of the evidence given against him on 7th August, 1967 and it was wrong to withhold this evidence from him.
iii. In the matter before us the evidence which was admitted was not evidence by way of rebuttal of any matter set up by the appellant for the first time. If even it were the time to introduce that evidence would be immediately after the evidence of the appellant himself and not after an adjournment for judgement. It is true that exhibit 23 is most pertinent but since the case had been closed it should not have been re-opened; the tribunal should have acted only on the evidence laid before it. Counsel for the Tribunal had not asked for this new evidence (exhibit 23) to be introduced; if he did, the Tribunal should have rejected the application. The record before us shows that it was the Tribunal itself which sought to bring up the evidence. This was after the lapse of so many weeks when it was considering its judgement.
⦿ SOME PROVISIONS
⦿ RELEVANT CASES
⦿ NOTABLE DICTA
We must point out for the benefit of the Tribunal concerned that like any other Tribunal of this nature, it is entitled to decide its own procedure and lay down its own rules for the conduct of enquiries regarding disciplinesee. – ADEMOLA, C.J.N. Denloye v. Medical and Dental Practitioners (1968)
There can be no doubt about the general rule that in a case in which the guilt of a man is in issue and judgement is being considered it is too late to allow further evidence to be given. If this were allowed it is difficult to see what limitation could be put on it. The present is not a case where the Tribunal had no counsel to prepare and present its case; it has its own counsel who acted for it from the start and on whom laid the duty of presenting the case. – ADEMOLA, C.J.N. Denloye v. Medical and Dental Practitioners (1968)