Mihir Banerjee, a high-rank government officer in West Bengal, is still in dark as to when he may reach the end of a more than a decade long strenuous journey to bring justice for the wrongful death of his only child “Ishita” who died in 2001 after she was treated for simple vomiting by a local physician, Dr. Abhijit Roy, who gave high dose of a centrally-active sedative (generally used in cancer patients after chemotherapy) which brought premature end to a promising life of Ishita when she was only 12 years old which also devastated the entire Banerjee family. Banerjee has been running from pillar to post for the past 11 years – district consumer court, state consumer court, national consumer court (NCDRC) and even in the Supreme Court of India where Banerjee argued his own case in 2009. The Supreme Court found the order passed by the NCDRC (which previously dismissed Banerjee’s appeal) untenable and remanded the case back to the NCDRC to review the decision.
Unfortunately, after the matter was remanded by the Supreme Court, the Apex Consumer Court (NCDRC) has put Banerjee’s case in a slumber with a cryptic direction that the case to be listed “in due course”. Ironically, Section 19A of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA), 1986 has categorically stated “An appeal filed before the State Commission or the National Commission shall be heard as expeditiously as possible and an endeavour shall be made to finally dispose of the appeal within a period of ninety days from the date of its admission”. Eleven years later and more than two years since the Supreme Court remanded the matter back to the NCDRC, this case is languishing in the NCDRC as Banerjee and his wife are still waiting with aching hearts in their desolate home near Kolkata for their final day of justice. But Banerjee is not alone in this arduous battle against the wealthy and powerful doctors and hospitals, as appeals from countless victims of “medical negligence” are routinely delayed for years and decades as Consumer Courts across India serious cases of death from “medical negligence” are jammed together with trivial consumer complaints (e.g. defective bicycles or TVs) causing a huge backlog and long delay for justice.