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Anuradha Saha Death Case hearing at the National Consumers’ Forum on Nov. 24, 2009

Although the Supreme Court of India has already found four top Kolkata doctors (Sukumar Mukherjee, Baidyanath Halder, Abani Roychowdhury and Balaram Prasad) and AMRI-Apollo Hospital guilty for causing Anuradha Saha’s death in a historic judgment on August 7, 2009, the Apex Court sent back the case back to the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) only for determination of the amount of compensation these doctors and hospital must now pay.

This historic case has now been listed at the NCDRC for hearing on Tuesday (Nov. 24, 2009) before the court of Hon’ble Justice Mr. K.S. Gupta and Hon’ble Mrs. Rajyalakshmi Rao. The total claim for compensation in this case is equivalent to Rs. 78 crore plus applicable interests for the past 11 years. While this claim for compensation may appear as a fabulous amount in the Indian context, it is not a very high amount in the context of USA where both Anuradha and her husband Dr. Kunal Saha (PBT president) were living permanently.

In the final judgment by the Hon’ble Apex Court, Justice Mr. Sinha has categorically stated that the compensation would depend upon the victim’s “educational qualification, her own upbringing, status, husband’s income”. Dr. Kunal Saha has already given a sworn affidavit in the court that the eventual compensation would only be spent for promotion of better healthcare in India and for helping the impoverished children of India (Anuradha Saha was a child psychologist). Several foreign experts have already filed opinions in support of the amount of claim made by Dr. Saha. On a different but related development, the Review petitions that were filed by all five convicted doctors and AMRI hospital challenging the Supreme Court judgment have been dismissed by the Apex Court on Oct. 28, 2009.

Also, although in the final judgment, the Supreme Court had also imposed an additional penalty of Rs. 5 lakh against the AMRI hospital and Rs. 1 lakh against the primary accused doctor Sukumar Mukherjee considering their heinous stance, these two convicts have not yet paid the penalty even after more than three months. Dr. Saha has moved an application to the Supreme Court seeking direction and possible suo motu contempt against these two defendants. This will also come for hearing in the Apex Court next week on Monday (Nov. 23, 2009).

In another ironic development, one of the convicted doctor (Dr. Abani Roychowdhury) has passed away from natural cause last month in Kolkata. Dr. Roychowdhury was more than 73 years old. Under the law, his legal heirs will have now to be the respondents instead of the deceased doctor.

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