A special bench of Justices Mr. C.K. Prasad and Mr. V. Gopala Gowda in Supreme Court today rejected plea by AMRI Hospital who had sought 1 year extra time to pay the highest-ever compensation of more than Rs. 11.5 crore for the wrongful death of Anuradha Saha who died from gross medical negligence by three senior Kolkata doctors (Sukumar Mukherjee, Bsidyanath Halder and Balaram Prasad) and AMRI Hospital in Kolkata with bulk of the compensation was imposed against the hospital. The Apex Court rejected AMRI’s plea and ordered the hospital to play to pay Rs. 1.6 crore today and they must pay the rest about Rs. 10 crore within a period of two and half months. The AMRI Hospital has already paid Rs. 1.6 crore today and rest of the compensation must be paid within the next 2.5 months. Interestingly, Apex Court also kept a “contempt” petition filed by Anuradha’s husnband and PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha and directed that the “contempt” against AMRI Board of Directors will be listed on 5th May, 2014 indicating that if the hospital fails to pay the entire compensation within next 2.5 months, they may be held for “contempt” of the Supreme Court.
The development in the Apex Court today should bring new hope for all victims of “medical negligence” who are waiting for their day of justice in the court. It also sends a strong signal to the negligent doctors/hospitals that they will be held accountable for their misdeeds and that they cannot get away from justice by delaying tactics using inherent flaws in the justice delivery system. Ironically, Indian Medical Association (IMA) has also filed a “Review” petition in this matter seeking a “cap” (limit) in the amount of compensation against the errant doctors and hospitals although it is not clear how a doctors’ group like IMA may have any legal standing in this litigation between a victim of medical negligence and a private hospital.