(IBNS) Almost five months after the National Consumer Forum (NCDRC) awarded the highest compensation in Indian medico-legal history for the wrongful death of an NRI doctor’s wife way back in 1998, the accused hospital and doctors of Kolkata paid up on Tuesday.
Ohio-based HIV/AIDS researcher Kunal Saha’s wife Anuradha Saha, who was a child psychologist, died during a social visit to Kolkata about 12 years ago from a rare and deadly skin condition.
“Three top Kolkata doctors and AMRI hospital (which recently had a big fire killing over 90 patients) eventually paid their dues before NCDRC today but only after they were threatened to be imprisoned under Section 27 of CPA Act, 1985,” said Saha.
After the Supreme Court found the three doctors and AMRI hospital guilty for Anuradha’s death in 2009 and remitted the case back to NCDRC only for determination of the quantum of compensation, NCDRC awarded a total of Rs. 1.7 crore including Rs. 40.40 lakh each against Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee (medicine specialist) and AMRI Hospital while Rs. 26.93 lakh each was awarded against Dr. Baidyanath Halder (dermatologist) and Dr. Balaram Prasad (medicine specialist).
“After the three doctors and AMRI hospital refused to pay the compensation for several months, I moved NCDRC seeking their imprisonment. While Dr. Halder and AMRI hospital paid their entire compensation, Dr. Mukherjee paid only Rs. 33 lakh and asked the court to allow him some more time to pay the rest of the compensation awarded against him,” said Saha.
“Although Dr. Prasad did not pay any money today, NCDRC granted him 2 weeks time to pay the entire compensation failing which he may still be sent to jail,” he said.
While this was the highest-ever compensation case in Indian medico-legal history, Saha has already filed an appeal before the Supreme Court challenging the NCDRC’s judgment because the compensation awarded by NCDRC he claimed is “only a tiny fraction of my total claim which now stands almost Rs. 200 crore (including interest).”
“The Apex Court has already admitted my appeal for enhancement of compensation and fixed it for final disposal on July 10, 2012,” he said.
In the course of his fight against the doctors and AMRI, Saha set up People for Better Treatment (PBT), India’s largest patients’ body against medical negligence and medical malaise.