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SC Passes Historic Judgment in Anuradha Saha Death Case: Experts From USA Will Testify Via Internet Videoconferencing

In a historic judgment that will have far-reaching consequences in bringing justice for the hapless victims of “medical negligence” in India, the Supreme Court division bench of Justices Mr. Dalveer Bhandari and Mr. Deepak Verma has directed today (April 7, 2011) that opinions of Prof. John Burke, Economic expert from Cleveland and Prof. John Broughton, noted psychologist from Columbia University in New York, must be recorded by videoconferencing through the Internet (Skype) within 4 weeks to determine the amount of compensation to be paid by the three senior Kolkata doctors (medicine specialists Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee, Balaram Prasad and dermatologist Dr. Baidyanath Halder) and Advanced Medicare Research Institute (AMRI) Hospital in Kolkata in the highest-ever compensation claim in Indian medico-legal history (see the news below).
 
The Apex Court previously held the Kolkata doctors/hospital guilty for causing death of  Anuradha Saha, US-based child psychologist and wife of Dr. Kunal Saha who died on May 28, 1998 at an age of only 36 during a social visit to India from gross medical negligence.  The Apex Court also imposed an unprecedented “penalty” of Rs. 6 lakh (Rs. 5 lakh against AMRI Hospital and Rs. 1 lakh against Dr. Mukherjee) and remanded the case back to the National Consumers’ Forum (NCDRC) (which previously dismissed this case) only for determination of the “quantum of compensation”.  The Supreme Court also stated that “foreign experts” may be examined through videoconferencing to determine a just compensation which now stands about Rs. 150 crore (Rs. 78 crore original claim plus interests for the past 13 years).  However, Dr. Saha has already testified in the court that the entire money from this case would be spent in India for promotion of better healthcare and to help the poor children in India. 
 
The NCDRC dismissed Dr. Saha’s submission last year to examine the US-based economist and psychology expert (because Anuradha was a US-based child psychologist) through videoconferencing on the bogus plea made by the guilty doctors/hospital that the Apex Court actually gave liberty to the guilty doctors to cross-examine foreign medical experts against which Dr. Saha moved the Apex Court which was disposed of today with this historic verdict (copy of SLP attached below).
The judgment passed today by the Apex Court allowing to record foreign experts’ opinions through the Internet will have important implications on “medical negligence” and other relevant cases in the future in India.  Victims of medical negligence would now be able to obtain opinions from medical experts in USA/UK or other foreign countries through videoconferencing using the free modern technology of the Internet.  Foreign expets may also testify through the Internet about corruption and ethical violation by the devious members of the medical community in India.  A major obstacle in finding justice against the negligent doctors in India has been the unwillingness of the Indian doctors to testify against their errant medical colleagues.  In view of today’s judgment by the Apex Court, cases against the delinquent medicos will no longer be dismissed due to the lack of expert medical witnesses. 

SC-SLP Sept, 2010

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