|Today’s Supreme Court decision sends a strong message to all negligent doctors and hospitals by clearly saying that they cannot get away from justice by using inherent judicial flaws and indefinitely delaying payment of compensation to the victim’s family- Kunal Saha
The Supreme Court on Monday refused to extend the deadline for AMRI Hospitals to pay Rs 11.4 crore to NRI doctor Kunal Saha as compensation for the death of his wife Anuradha because of medical negligence.
AMRI will have to pay the damages by June 30, failing which it could face contempt charges.
V. George, the AMRI counsel, said the hospital chain has already paid the principal amount of Rs 6.4 crore to Saha. It has to pay the rest, an estimated Rs 5 crore, by June 30.
“It is made clear that no further extension would be granted,” a bench of Justices C.K. Prasad and Y. Gopala Gowda said in its order.
The bench warned: “If you don’t pay the money you will have to go for contempt.”
The apex court gave the ruling on an application moved by AMRI for the second time seeking more time to pay the compensation.
Saha told Metro from Ohio on Monday evening: “Today’s Supreme Court decision sends a strong message to all negligent doctors and hospitals by clearly saying that they cannot get away from justice by using inherent judicial flaws and indefinitely delaying payment of compensation to the victim’s family.”
Anuradha, who was a US-based child psychologist, died in 1998 during a holiday in India because of negligence by senior doctors Sukumar Mukherjee, B.N. Halder and Abani Roychowdhury of the AMRI Hospitals.
AMRI sources said it would abide by the apex court order.
This is the second time the hospital group sought an extension citing poor financial health.
The apex court on October 24 last year gave its verdict in favour of Saha and asked AMRI to pay the amount within eight weeks.
AMRI requested the court in the second week of December to give it more time and allow payment of the amount in 12 monthly instalments. It cited financial losses and debts on account of the 2011 fire at its Dhakuria unit.
The Dhakuria hospital opened its outpatient department in January after getting a new licence under the Clinical Establishment Act to reopen its main building and annexe II. The other building, annexe I, had caught fire.
The hospital group had submitted before the court that it incurred a debt of “over Rs 250 crore” because of the fire which claimed 91 people.
It was granted four weeks additional time for paying the compensation.
When the matter was taken up for hearing on January 30, the apex court had allowed the hospital two-and-a-half months to pay the compensation.