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AMRI seeks time to pay doc death damages

AMRI Hospitals on Friday appealed to the Supreme Court for more time to pay the estimated Rs 10 crore in compensation to NRI doctor Kunal Saha in connection with the death of his wife Anuradha because of medical negligence.

The hospital chain sought an additional six months to pay the compensation, citing poor financial health.

This is the second time the hospital has sought an extension for paying the compensation on financial grounds.

A bench of Justices C.K. Prasad and Pinaki Chandra Ghose could not take up the matter on Friday as Justice Ghose recused himself from the case.

The bench posted the matter for hearing on May 5 before another bench of Justices Prasad and Y. Gopala Gowda.

Saha’s wife Anuradha, a US-based child psychologist, died during a social visit to India in 1998 because of alleged gross medical negligence by senior doctors Sukumar Mukherjee, B.N. Halder and Abani Roychowdhury at AMRI Hospitals, Dhakuria.

In 2011, the National Consumer Commission (NCDRC) awarded a compensation of Rs 1.7 crore, prompting Saha to move the apex court for enhancement of the amount.

On October 24 last year, the apex court ruled that Saha be paid over Rs 6.08 crore with six per cent interest per annum from the date of the complaint in 1999. It said the amount should be paid by the hospital within eight weeks.

Legal experts said the amount roughly worked out to over Rs 10 crore and the award was the highest so far in the country in a case relating to medical negligence.

At the last hearing, the hospital had handed over a cheque of Rs 1 crore to Saha and had expressed its willingness to pay the remaining amount within two-and-a-half months.

Though the apex court had asked the hospital to pay the amount within eight weeks, it cited in the second week of December huge financial losses and debts on account of a massive fire at its Dhakuria unit in December 2011 that killed 91 people.

The hospital filed an application for extension so that it could pay the amount in 12 monthly instalments.

Legal experts said the appeal held ground because the fire-ravaged Dhakuria unit was not bringing any revenue.

It was granted four weeks’ additional time by the court.

When the matter was taken up for hearing on January 30, the court had allowed the hospital a further two-and-a-half months to pay the compensation.