An appeal has been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the judgment passed by the National Consumer Forum (NCDRC) which granted about Rs. 1.3 crore as compensation on October 21, 2011 for the wrongful death of Anuradha Saha, wife of PBT president Dr. Kunal Saha. While the award of Rs. 1.3 crore by NCDRC is the highest in Indian medico-legal history, NCDRC actually allowed less than 2% of the claim made against the three Kolkata doctors (Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee, Dr. Baidyanath Halder and Dr. Balaram Prasad) and AMRI Hospital in Kolkata. The NCDRC also did not allow a single rupee of interest even though this case has lingered before various legal forums in India for more than 13 years. The NCDRC also deducted more than Rs. 25 lakh from the compensation because one of the doctors (Dr. Abani Roychowdhury) who was also found guilty by the Apex Court passed away in 2010 while this case was still pending before the national Commission. More importantly, NCDRC has also concluded that Dr. Saha was also responsible for death of his wife and deducted 10% from the compensation because of “contributory negligence” clearly going above and beyond the findings of the Supreme Court. These and other relevant points have been highlighted in the new appeal filed by Dr. Saha in the Apex Court yesterday seeking enhancement of the compensation (see below).
Ironically, NCDRC found absolutely no negligence in the treatment of Anuradha and acquitted all doctors and AMRI Hospital in 2006. After Dr. Saha moved against the NCDRC judgment, Apex Court found the four Kolkata doctors and AMRI Hospital guilty for “medical negligence” causing Anuradha’s death and categorically stated that the Commission was “clearly wrong in opining that there was no negligence on the part of the hospital or the doctors” (2009 SCC 9, 221). The Supreme Court returned the case back to NCDRC only for determination of the quantum of compensation.
Dr. Saha has repeatedly said and also given sworn affidavit that except for his legal expenses, the entire compensation from this case would be spent for promotion of better healthcare in India and for the poor Indian children (Anuradha was a child psychologist). Interestingly, none of the guilty Kolkata doctors or AMRI Hospital has paid any compensation as yet even after the lapse of almost three months since NCDRC judgment. Dr. Saha has moved a separate application before NCDRC seeking three years imprisonment for the Kolkata doctors and AMRI Hospital directors (who are already in jail for causing death of 93 innocent patients in a recent tragic fire in Kolkata) as permitted under the Consumer Protection Act.