A hugely benevolent and direct effect of the historic judgment passed last October by Supreme Court awarding over Rs. 11.5 crore against several senior doctors and AMRI Hospital in Kolkata for Anuradha Saha’s death from “medical negligence” has been reflected in a big way for the first time as the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) has awarded an unprecedented compensation of more than three crore rupees (Rs. 3,01,48,195/-) plus 9% interest since 2003 against OTIS Elevator Company for causing death of a young officer who died due to a faulty Lift which crushed him in Delhi back in 2003 (see NCDRC judgment below). This momentous judgment was passed by a division bench of NCDRC on 21st January, 2014.
While this was not a case involving “medical negligence”, the principles used by NCDRC to award this huge compensation for a victim of negligent death who was Indian resident were solely based on Apex Court judgment in Anuradha’s case. The principles as set in Anuradha’s case by the Supreme Court last October must now be used, perhaps even more effectively, on all cases of “medical negligence” that are pending in different Consumer Courts across India. This will undoubtedly bring a new ray of hope for equitable justice to all victims of “medical negligence” and is also likely to have a strong deterrent effect on reckless practice of medicine by many Indian doctors/hospitals.
The unprecedented principles of law that were settled by Supreme Court in Anuradha’s case and were followed in the judgment delivered last month by NCDRC include:
1) Compensation for loss of future potential income: The compensation by NCDRC was NOT based on the actual income of the deceases at the time of death, but calculated considering young age and future potential of promotion and increased income.
2) The “multiplier system” cannot be used for negligent death. The compensation by NCDRC was calculated NOT in accordance to the “multiplier system” that has been routinely used for calculating compensation from negligent death until Anuradha’s judgment by the Supreme Court.
3) Compensation awarded is enhanced during final argument and eventual award was even more than the original claim: The compensation was significantly enhanced by NCDRC only during final argument. In fact, the victim initially claimed a compensation of only Rs. 1.89 crore. But only during final argument, he enhanced the claim to Rs. 3.01 crore solely on the basis of the principles laid down by Apex Court in Anuradha’s judgment. Although the opposite parties objected to this enhanced claim, NCDRC granted 100% of the enhanced claim and awarded a compensation of Rs. 3.01 crore plus 9% interest for the last more than 10 years.
This NCDRC judgment should go a long way to help all victims of “medical negligence” who have been waiting for their day of justice after losing their loved one at the hands of hitherto “untouchable” doctors/hospitals. From now on, compensation for death of a child or student (with no actual income) from “medical negligence” would be calculated considering future prospect of the deceased which could easily be in multi-crore rupees.