A software engineer argued his case like a seasoned lawyer, explained complex issues of medical science to the Supreme Court and won himself an unprecedented compensation of Rs 1 crore from a hospital for medical negligence.
All along, 39-year-old Prasanth S. Dhananka was in a wheelchair.
“I’m happy that finally justice has been done,” he told HT from Bangalore where he works with Infosys. “I have set a precedent for others in a similar situation.”
In 1990, the lower portion of his body was left paralysed after a surgery at the Nizam Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS), Hyderabad.
In 1999, Dhananka approached the Supreme Court after the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission awarded him Rs 15.5 lakh. He sought Rs 7 crore as compensation.
The hospital, too, challenged the commission’s finding that it had been negligent in treating Dhananka.
On Thursday, a three-judge bench headed by Justice B.N. Agrawal held the NIMS guilty of medical negligence and directed it to pay Rs 1 crore to Dhananka. It told the NIMS to pay 6 per cent interest on the amount since March 1, 1999.
This is the highest ever compensation awarded by the Supreme Court in a medical negligence case.
The court said the amount was granted keeping in mind that Dhananka’s brilliant career was cut short and there was, as of now, no possibility of improvement in his condition.
“The compensation will ensure a steady and reasonable income to him for a time when he is unable to earn for himself,” it said.
The court also praised Dhananka. “Though a deep sense of injury was discernible throughout his submissions made while confined to a wheelchair, he remained unruffled and behaved with quite dignity,” it said.
“He pleaded his case bereft of any rancour or invective for those, who, in his perception, had harmed him.”
Dhananka thanked the court for its magnanimity and for giving him a proper hearing. “There are thousands of cases pending in the court but the judges gave me a patient hearing,” he said.
The engineer said he was “a little disappointed with the quantum of compensation” but would make final comments only after reading the judgment.
Dhananka’s father, M.R. Seshadri (72), a retired employee of Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd, told HT he was “happy as well as disappointed”.
“Happy because the court has upheld our contention about negligence on the part of NIMS’s doctors and disappointed because the compensation amount is too small. We spend Rs 40,000 a month on his treatment.”
Seshadri said the court should have awarded more compensation because his son’s life has been destroyed.