A US-based NRI doctor has been awarded a record compensation of over Rs 1.77 crore by the national consumer court for the death of his wife in 1998 due to medical negligence in a private hospital in Kolkata.
The National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission (NCDRC) ordered Kolkata-based Advanced Medicare and Research Institute (AMRI) and its three doctors - Sukumar Mukherjee, Baidyanath Haldar and Balram Prasad - to share the amount to be paid to Dr Kunal Saha.
An NCDRC bench fixed the compensation on the direction of the Supreme Court, which had referred Saha's appeal to it. The court held the doctors and the hospital culpable to civil liability for medical negligence, which led to the death of Anuradha, 36, a child psychologist. Anuradha was hospitalised after she complained of rashes.
Saha had sought over Rs 77 crore on account of mental agony, loss of income, cost of treatment, travel and hotel expenses, breakdown of family and cost of litigation. But, the court awarded a compensation of Rs 1,77,87,500 (including R5 lakh towards cost of litigation) only.
"A complainant cannot be allowed to get undue enrichment by making a fortune out of a misfortune," said the judge.
Blaming Saha for interfering in Anuradha's treatment, the court even ordered a 10% deduction in compensation.
"Although it is by far the highest compensation in Indian medico-legal history, this is a travesty of justice as it is too meagre an amount," said Saha.
In Kolkata, AMRI executive director BN Agarwal said, "After going through the order, if we find the amount unreasonable, or unjustified, we will move the Supreme Court again."
(With Subhendu Maiti)