SC ticks off apex fora on medical negligence case

The Supreme Court has chided the NCRDC for the casual manner in which it quashed the Rs 5 lakh compensation claim awarded to a minor boy whose left leg had to be amputated due to alleged medical negligence.

Last Updated: Nov 05, 2010, 00:48 AM IST

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has chided the
National Consumer Redressal Commission (NCRDC)for the casual
manner in which it quashed the Rs 5 lakh compensation claim
awarded to a minor boy whose left leg had to be amputated due
to alleged medical negligence.

A Bench of Justices G S Singhvi and Asok Kumar Ganguly in
a judgement said the apex consumer fora`s decision to quash
the compensation awarded by the Gujarat State Commission by
ignoring certain "omission" on the part of the doctor has
resulted in failure of justice.

The apex court said NCDRC should have considered the
grave omission on the part of Dr. Mayur H. Mehta in not
producing the case details for six years and merely went by
vascular surgeon Dr Ashwin Bhamar`s deposition that there
could be 10 reasons for a person to develop gangrene.

"In our view, the National Commission was duty bound to
pay serious attention on the respondent(Dr Mayur H. Mehta`s)
failure to produce the case papers for 6 long years and called
upon him to explain why the record pertaining to the treatment
given to the appellant was held back from the State Commission
till the complainant’s evidence was virtually over.

"The case papers/bed ticket maintained by the hospital of
the respondent would have disclosed the line of treatment
adopted by him. Why did he not produce those papers along with
reply to the complaint or at least before commencement of the
evidence of the appellant is inexplicable?" Justice Singhvi,
writing the judgement, said."

The apex court passed the judgement while directing the
apex consumer fora to examine afresh the case and dispose it
off within six months as the incident was already 16 years
old.

In this case, the boy Marghesh K Parikh was admitted to
Dr Mehta`s hospital on October 31,1994 with complaints of
loose motion, upon which he was administered glucose first
through his right shoulder and thereafter through the left
foot which developed gangrene.

Mehta subsequently referred him to one Dr Chudasama who
treated him without success. The boy was later taken to
Vadodara on November 5, 1994, to Dr. Ashwin Bhamar who
referred him to Bhailal Amin Hospital where his left leg was
amputated below the knee. The boy`s parents moved the State Commission seeking a
compensation of Rs 10 lakh, which, after examining the issue,
awarded him Rs five lakh compensation and rejected the
doctor`s plea that the victim was brought in a critical
condition to the hospital.

The State Commission noted that the case papers were
produced by Dr Mehta only after 6 years and that too after
cross-examination of the complainant’s father and vascular
surgeon,Dr. Ashwin Bhamar,who was produced as an expert.

It further noted that Dr Mehta had not filed the
affidavit of Dr. Chudasama to whom the boy was initially
referred for treatment.

The National Commission, however, allowed the appeal of
the doctor after merely considering that in his cross
examination, Dr Ashwin Bhamar admitted that there could be ten
other reasons for gangrene.

Aggrieved, the boy`s father moved the apex court.

Upholding the appeal, the apex court said "by
withholding those papers till the completion of the evidence
of Dr. Bhamar, the respondent appears to have made an attempt
to mislead the State Commission about the steps taken by him
for treating the appellant.

"Equally intriguing was respondent’s failure to file
affidavit of Dr. Chudasama to whom he claims to have taken
the appellant for treatment. The respondent did try to fill in
this lacuna by filing affidavit of Dr. Chudasama before the
National Commission. The latter should have enquired as to why
he had not filed such affidavit before the State Commission or
examined him as a witness before the State Commission.

These
omissions on the part of the National Commission are extremely
serious and have resulted in failure of justice," the Bench
observed while directing the apex fora to examine the issue
afresh.

-PTI