For the first time in Indian medico-legal history, testimony from an expert from a foreign country was directly recorded through the Internet on Tuesday (April 26, 2011). Prof. John Burke, a renowned Economist based in Cleveland, Ohio testified via Skype using high-speed Internet in support of the compensation claimed against three senior doctors (Sukumar Mukherjee, Baidyanath Halder and Balaram Prasad) and AMRI hospital in Kolkata for death of Anuradha Saha from gross medical negligence. While Prof. Burke testified from Ohio, USA, it was recorded through a computer in the conference center at the Radission Marian Hotel at G-59 Connaught Place in Delhi under the supervision of former registrar of the Delhi High Court, Mr. R.S. Chhabra. Prof. Burke’s testimony was not completed and it will continue tomorrow at 6 PM (in order to accomodate the time difference between India and USA). Earlier this month, Supreme Court of India permitted to record opinioin the conference center of the Radission Marina Hotel at G-59 Connaught Place in Delhins from two US experts (Prof. Burke and Prof. John Broughton, a psychologist from Columbia University) through the Internet in the Rs. 78 crore (plus applicable interests since 1998) compensation case for the wrongful death of Anuradha.
Most cases against doctors are dismissed by the courts in India because Indian doctors are unwilling to testify against their errant medical colleagues. While “videoconferencing” using a satellite service was used to record testimony from foreign witnesses in few cases in the past, the technical complications and high expense associated with “videoconferencing” made it unsuitable for effective use by most ordinary Indians. With the acceptance of the use of free “Skype” service by the highest court in India, Indian victims of medical malpractice will be greatly empowered for the future in their quest for justice against the highly influential and hitherto “untouchable” members of the medical community.