The Supreme Court bench consisting of Justices AbhayManoharSapru and Dinesh Maheshwari, ordered the Himachal Pradesh State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission and the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission to pay Rs 10 Lakh compensation to a woman who suffered in a case of medical negligence, wherein, her arm was amputated.
In the case of Shoda Devi Vs. DDU/RIPON Hospital Shimla and Ors., the lady who was from a very poor background, suffered due the medical negligence which led to her arm being amputated at the age of 45. The woman told the court that she was constantly suffering from excruciating pain throughout the surgical procedure and the doctors and medical practitioners ignored her, and retorted to her by saying that ‘the people from hilly areas make unnecessary noises’. They took no measures to examine her or reduce her pain despite her bringing the fact to their knowledge.
The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission on inquiry and investigation, had termed it a case of medical negligence and awarded her a compensation of Rs 2,000,000. The lady, unsatisfied with the decision of the commission, approached the Supreme Court, to seek enhancement of compensation.
The Supreme Court, after considering the surrounding facts and circumstances, observed that the amount ascertained for the award of compensation by the National Commission was too restrictive taking into account the disablement caused by the trouble and trauma to the woman. If further observed that award of compensation cannot go restrictive when the victim is coming from a poor and rural background.
It said that there should be uniformity in the amount of general damages towards pain and suffering caused to the human beings. The compensation should not be restrictive in case where the victim comes from a poor background and in such cases, like this one, the background of the victim should guide the commissions towards awarding a higher amount. The appellant, who is a poor lady, is unable to provide her contribution in meeting the ends of her family due to her disablement. This fact should be a guiding factor for pushing commission towards awarding the compensation of such level as to provide relief in reasonable monetary terms to the appellant and to her family.
Along with that, the court also observed that the medical professionals should be equally responsive and diligent to all the consumers and patients regardless of their background. The Court said that such granting of reasonability higher amount of compensation was necessary to serve dual purposes:
- to provide some succour and support to the appellant against the hardship and disadvantage due to amputation of right arm; and
- to send the message to the professionals that their responsiveness and diligence has to be equi-balanced for all their consumers and all the human beings deserve to be treated with equal respect and sensitivity.
Legal News Writer- Sonal Sinha