Biplab Pal, 32-year old only son of a poor mother, Bula Pal, died in 2014 from alleged botched gall-bladder surgery at R.G. Kar Medical College & Hospital in Kolkata. After the victim’s family came to PBT seeking help, a complaint was lodged before the W.B. State Consumer Forum. Court sent numerous notices to the premier government medical college and accused doctors (Drs. P. Mukherjee, S. Lahiri and Tanusree Chakraborty) over a period of 3-4 years but the accused doctors and R.G. Kar hospital simply ignored these notices and remained absolutely silent. Finally, a judgment was passed by the State Commission after going through the merit of the case holding the doctors/hospital guilty for medical negligence and allowed a compensation of Rs. 46 lakh.
Ironically, soon after the judgment was delivered and it was reported by the local media, R.G. Kar Medical College challenged the verdict before the National Consumer Forum (NCDRC) on the ground that natural justice was denied as the judgment was passed ex perte. NCDRC passed a final order last month remanding the case back to the State Commission to give a final opportunity to the accused doctors/hospital to file their defense. However, NCDRC also held that the accused chose not to appear before the State Commission despite receiving repeated notices and imposed a penalty of Rs. 2 lakh for their non-appearance including Rs. 1 lakh against R.G. Kar Hospital and Rs. 25,000/- against each of the 4 accused doctors. PBT president Dr. Kunal Saha personally appeared on behalf of the complainant-mother Mrs. Bula Pal and argued that even if the case is remanded back to the state commission, the deliberate and devious ploy on part of a government medical college/hospital and the accused doctors for their non-appearance only to harass the victim must be dealt with exemplary punishment. The Rs. 2 lakh penalty against the accused doctors/hospital for non-appearance in a medical negligence case is one of the highest award of this nature in Indian medico-legal parlance (see news below).