The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Saha seeks record damages

New Delhi, Oct. 22: The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission today issued notices to Calcutta’s Advanced Medicare and Research Institute hospital and many city-based doctors and administrators in a medical negligence case involving more than Rs 77 crore — a record in India’s medical jurisprudence.

Petitioner Kunal Saha, a US-based doctor from Calcutta, argued that the sum claimed as compensation should be exemplary so that errant doctors become more careful and caring towards their patients.

Saha’s wife, Anuradha, also a medical practitioner in the US, died due to alleged medical negligence in AMRI during the couple’s visit to their hometown about four years ago. Since, Saha has been fighting a plethora of cases in Calcutta High Court, the Alipore trial court, Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court.

He has demanded a compensation of Rs 77,70,00,000 as Anuradha was earning $40,000 a year when she died. Now, she could have been earning about $1,00,000, Saha claimed, stating that the compensation in Indian currency has been calculated in accordance with the total earning capacity of the deceased in dollars.

The commission fixed the date for further hearing on March 28 and asked Saha’s counsel, Avik Dutta, to file affidavits within four weeks. The respondents and the Centre were asked to file their counters within another four weeks after Dutta.

Apart from AMRI, the other respondents in Calcutta are Sukumar Mukherjee, Baidyanth Halder, Abani Roy Chowdhury, Balram Prasad, Kaushik Nandy, L.R.K. Prasad, Ashim Barman, G.D. Gautam, S.K. Chaturvedi, S.C. Chaturvedi, Rabin Deb, M.K. Chhetri, S. Bose, Sital Ghosh, S.K. Modi and R.S. Agarwal.

Saha has also moved against the conviction of three doctors in the case by the Alipore trial court on the ground that the punishment handed out was too little. Under British and American medical jurisprudence, a convicted doctor cannot practise until acquitted by the higher courts. In the Anuradha case, the convicted doctors are continuing practise, the petition before the commission argued while calling upon the medical council to cancel their licences.

His brother-in-law, Manas Ganguly, who, too, lost his wife due to alleged medical negligence, has filed a PIL in the Supreme Court, seeking instant punishment for errant doctors and more accountability of the medical council. The court has sought a reply from the medical council on the rules that allow action against erring doctors.

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