By – Sonali Singh
In the Supreme Court of India
|NAME OF THE CASE||KUNAL SAHA VS. AMRI HOSPITAL|
|CITATION||CAL 692, 2866, 731, 858 OF 2012, SSC 384 (2014)|
|DATE OF THE JUDGEMENT||22ND DECEMBER, 2014|
|BENCH OF JUDGES||C.K. PRASAD, V. GOPAL GOWDA|
|STATUTES||TORT LAW, INDIAN PENAL CODE, INDIAN CONSTITUTION, CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT sec 304a OF IPC SEC22 OF RTI ACT ARTICLE 144 OF INDIAN CONSTITUTION|
Medical science is a complex science. If there is any medical negligence, the court must not hold any existence of negligence but also omission or commission on his part upon going into the depth of the working of the professional as also the nature of the job. The reason behind the death should be direct or proximate. In between civil and criminal action, a distinction must be borne in mind.
The jurisprudential concept of negligence must differ in civil and legal code. What could also be negligence in civil law must not be negligence in the legal code. For negligence to amount to an offence the element of men’s rea must be shown to exist. Just in the case of criminal negligence, the degree of negligence should be much high.
Negligence with a low degree may provide a ground for action in civil law but cannot form the premise for prosecution. To prosecute negligence under legal code, the accused did something that didn’t do something which is given in facts or circumstances under medical provisions.
Medical negligence is a major crisis in human society affecting families at every stratum. Through this case, we adopt a doctrinal approach with the target to assist the reader to know the essentials tenets of buyer protection in cases of medical negligence. The common man is unaware of his rights and has often become the victim of assorted medical malpractices.
In this case, we will discuss the length to grasp the changes within the judicial attitude. The judgement may be considered to be a watershed moment in medical law jurisprudence where exemplary amends of 11 crores are served on a consultation room and medical professionals.
A medical professional is not expected to produce the very best standard in the field of medicine, but merely requires a fair and reasonable standard of care and competence that must be exercised. The proposition could appear to be simple and trivial, but it has been seen that the foremost innocuous act or omission on the part of the doctor can cause a series of events that ultimately cause the biological death of the patient. This must be changed; justice can’t be so blind, allowing such criminal activities to continue.
BACKGROUND OF THE CASE
The supreme court has awarded the best compensation of 6 crores during medical negligence in India to Kunal Saha for the death of his wife Anuradha Saha which has caused the incorrect kind of disquiet within the medical fraternity. Anuradha’s condition required sophisticated physical treatment and highly skilled medical professionals, both of which are readily available in India.
Her death was not mostly out of the negligence of our society to develop a truly high-quality medical aid system. Medical professionals, especially doctors must take a large share of the blame for these kinds of affairs. They have not been vocal in pressing the government to develop such a system. This is often the identical hospital where a major fire broke and shut to 100 people lost a year back.
FACTS OF THE CASE
Anuradha with her husband Kunal Saha who is accustomed to the US. arrived in Kolkata for a vacation on April 1, 1998. Anuradha developed a fever together with a skin rash on 25 April 1998. After asking a few friends about a prominent doctor within the city they ought to fathom DR. SUKUMAR MUKHERJEE and visited them on 26 April, but as per the prescribed medicines, she got injected with the first dose of injection by him. After 4 days Anuradha’s condition worsened with more rashes on their body and high fever, so and she was admitted to the AMRI hospital Kolkata where DR. MUKHERJEE reexamined Mrs Saha with other doses of injection before leaving for the US. but after some days the skin rash appeared more aggressively, large sheets of the skin of Mrs Saha has separated from her back and limbs. On 17 May 1998, Dr Saha evacuated his wife to Mumbai by air ambulance as her condition worsened, as she looked as if the hospital doctors noticed green patches on her back. On 28th May 1998, Anuradha Saha passed away due to TOXIC EPIDERMAL NECROLYSIS.
In November 1998, Saha himself filed a complaint before the NATIONAL DISPUTES AND REDRESSAL COMMISSION and before the WEST BENGAL MEDICAL COUNCIL in 1999.
On 9th March 1999, KUNAL SAHA, the husband of the late ANURADHA SAHA filed a criminal case and civil suits in several courts across the country on the bottom of medical negligence against the AMRI and DR. MUKHERJEE, DR. B HALDAR and DR. BALRAM PRASAD.
In 2000, he filed a complaint before NCRDC against the BREACH CANDY HOSPITAL and its doctors. This complaint was withdrawn later in 2003.
On 1st June 2006, the LOCAL COMMISSIONER dismissed the complaint on the bottom that doctors and surgeons are not always expected to cure the patient as there can be situations where the condition of the patient is beyond the control of the medical practitioners. The commissioner simply refused to believe that prescribing excessive steroid injection by DR. MUKHERJEE was an instance of negligence.
Mr Saha further determined to hunt justice from the scheme, filed a civil appeal to the supreme court of India. The supreme court heard the civil and criminal appeal of the said case together for speedy and comprehensive analysis.
The court rejected the criminal appeal but allowed the civil appeal thereby setting aside the order of the commission and remanded the case to the commission for determination of adequate compensation.
Later in 2013, the supreme court found dr. Mukherjee, dr. Prasad, dr. harder and AMRI hospital were negligent in civil cases and asked them to compensate about 60.8 million rupees because of the complex financial condition of DR. Saha, the pain his wife endured, the doctor’s loss of income and his legal expenses but their license didn’t cancel and in a while DR. MUKHERJEE became chief advisor of the HEALTH MINISTRY of WEST BENGAL and other doctors practising in the city’s top hospitals which made Dr Saha file a petition under ARTICLE 226 OF THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION.
- Whether the west Bengal clinical establishment act 2017 have a niche of removal of member of committee which require instant interference of judiciary to the subject matter.
- Whether a foreigner petitioners PIL are often entertained within the court.
- Did such omission as the part of the doctor’s amount to an instance of negligence?
- Will the case set a precedent?
- Whether the individuals below personal income would be valued and priced at the speed at which they contribute to society.
- Whether Anuradha was employed at the time of her death?
Negligence could be a civil tort that occurs when someone breaches his duty of care which he owed to a different thanks to which the person suffers some hard or undergoes some legal injury.
Elements of negligence
- Cause in fact
- Proximate cause
A health care or hospital includes a duty of care to patients. So the quality of care fell below reasonable standards, this is called the breach of duty. That a person is owed is a duty of care. As there was a breach of duty of care and there of the person suffered avoidable harm.
Section 304a IPC:
This section aware us of death caused by negligence.
As per this section, anyone who causes the death of any person by doing a rash or negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which can reach two years, or with fine or with both.
The present case was filed by dr. Saha against the doctors and AMRI on the grounds of amounting to service and deficiency in medical negligence under sec 304a of IPC.
SEC22 of the RIGHT TO INFORMATION ACT has also been cited in the case as the appellant wanted the judicial records from the court, as this act does not provide any information to be denied on this ground as any other law in force has clear provisions of disclosure of judicial records, it is not deemed to be inconsistent under RTI ACT.
Consumer protection act is also mentioned in this case with the civil liability under tort law stating the fact that care and negligence are not similar in civil branches of medical negligence.
Article 144 of the constitution is also mentioned as it states all the civil and judicial authorities will act under the supervision of the supreme court.
ARGUMENTS OF APPELANT
Appellant contended that there is a niche within the statute within the matter of removal of the person to be appointed as a member of the commission and submitted that the court should step in to regulating the appointment and removal of members.
Appellant also contended that as per this case, this can be the meanest decision of rom side of the state to appoint dr. Mukherjee was a member of the committee, as he was found guilty of medical negligence.
The appellant asked for reasonable compensation by answering the points within the case about his losses during the last 15 years.
The assertion of the appellant within the petition and in his evidence before the national commission that the income of the deceased was 30000 dollars per annum is not sustained by providing proof.
ARGUMENTS OF RESPONDENT
The respondent argued that the petition filed by the appellant is baseless and because of the non-public vendetta and such petition should be thrown out of the court as it is brought on account of private interest and not for the public which escapes the very purpose of PIL.
The respondent submitted that petition is filed under ARTICLE266 of the constitution of India which cant be entertained since the foreigner petitioner is not ordinarily a resident of this country so he cannot get laid low with the working of the act.
He also stressed the recent judgment of the supreme court where PIL is dismissed due to the private interest of someone.
Respondent claimed on granting the quantum of compensation supported the income of the deceased.
They also argued that the appellant had not led any oral evidence regarding the income of the deceased.
No yardstick is available about the expenditure of the deceased within the USA the appellant has not adduced any evidence during this regard.
The judgement of the supreme court of India in October 2013 awarded the compensation of 6 crores to dr. Saha because the death of his wife caused the incorrect fraternity.
The fear that a precedent has been set and that such large amounts as compensation will become routine appears to be without foundation because the biggest component, over 5 crores, is on account of the income of the income that Anuradha could have earned within the US. During this judgement, which came 15 years after Anuradha’s death, the court ruled on the quantum of compensation to be awarded to Saha, the proportion within which amount should be paid by the doctors and hospital, and whether any amount should be deducted for negligence by Saha.
The apex court held senior doctors as well as hospitals, guilty of medical negligence and asked Mukherjee and prasad to pay Rs 10 lakh each while Halder must pay Rs 5 lakh as compensation within eight weeks. Roychowdhary passed during the hearing of the case.
It was also held that any person can file a PIL, and such petition cannot be thrown away without knowing the topic involve within the petition only on the bottom of that such petition is been filed by a foreign petitioner.
The connotational bench also held that doctrine of a delight is not a license to act with unfettered discretion of the act arbitrarily, whimsically or capriciously, but such powers are given as courts ate slowly to entertain a challenge in a matter of choice of personnel for appointment of situation.
It is very important to focus within the above on the way during which respondent attempted to shirk from his individual responsibility within the case is made against him on the death of claimant’s wife is extremely much unbecoming of a doctor. Such kinds of daily cases have become a threat to society, being such a senior respectable doctor, he has shown utmost disrespect to his profession by being so casual and tried to shift the blame on other doctors by analyzing the case and by trying to prove himself right.
But it’s a form of delight that the court has broadened the scope of PIL once again by not rejecting it because PIL are the greatest weapon of vulnerable people which they’ll use just in case of any malpractices and malice intention of executives.
The court has agreed that the judiciary can interfere in the matter of appointment of the member as per choice which keeps check and balance within the society. Medical negligence must learn more seriousness as nowadays the cases of medical negligence are booming.