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AMRI breather for death damages

The Supreme Court on Thursday granted AMRI Hospitals another two-and-a-half months to pay Rs 11 crore in compensation to NRI doctor Kunal Saha following a plea by the health-care facility.

On October 24, the apex court had ordered the hospital to pay the compensation for the death of Saha’s wife Anuradha within eight weeks.

The hospital filed an application in the apex court in the second week of December, seeking an extension of the deadline because of “financial losses and debts” caused by the fire at the Dhakuria unit.

The hospital also filed a review petition, seeking permission to pay the amount in 12 monthly instalments.

Ravi Shankar Prasad, counsel for AMRI, submitted before the bench of Justice C.K. Prasad and Justice Y. Gopala Gowda that the hospital was ready to pay Saha Rs 1 crore immediately and another Rs 2 crore within a week. The rest, the lawyer submitted, would be paid within two-and-a-half months.

The hospital group, Prasad submitted, has incurred a debt of “over Rs 250 crore” because of the December 2011 fire at the Dhakuria facility that claimed 91 lives.

“AMRI has been regularly paying salaries to the 2,500 employees at its various units We have not sacked a single employee so far despite the loss,” Prasad said.

M.N. Krishnamani and T.V. George, appearing on behalf of Saha, submitted that the other hospitals of the group had been “doing flourishing business” but did not press the matter further.

Krishnamani accepted AMRI’s offer but pleaded that Saha’s contempt petition filed against the hospital for defaulting on payment be kept open so he could approach the court again if the management failed to keep its promise.

Prasad then handed over a cheque for Rs 1 crore to Krishnamani. “AMRI had earlier given a cheque for Rs 60 lakh to my advocate, which I’ll now accept,” said Saha.

“We are happy the court has granted our petition for an extension of the deadline,” said an AMRI spokesperson.