The Anuradha Saha death case took a decisive turn on Thursday, with the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission in New Delhi dismissing a petition filed by the Advanced Medicare Research Institute (AMRI), Calcutta. AMRI had sought that members of its board of directors should not be held accountable for alleged medical negligence.
Around 12 board members, who had claimed they were not involved in treating Anuradha Saha, a US-based doctor who died at AMRI in 1998, will face a Rs 77-crore medical negligence compensation case, filed in 1999 by Anuradha’s husband Kunal Saha.
The AMRI board had pleaded that only the doctors who had treated Anuradha Saha be made parties to the case.
The list of directors on the board now to face trial includes four doctors — S.C. Chaturvedi, M.K. Chettri, S. Bose and Sital Ghosh — besides L.R.K. Prasad, Ashim Barman, G.D. Gautam, S.K. Chaturvedi, Rabin Deb, S.K. Todi, S. Bose and R.S. Agarwal.
This is the first time in India that such a large sum has been demanded as compensation for the loss of a life.
The Commission has fixed a final hearing for March 28. If the the Commission awards the full amount, it will be the highest compensation payment after those awarded by US juries.
Two Calcutta doctors, Sukumar Mukherjee and Baidyanath Haldar, were convicted in May 2002 for “criminal negligence” by a Calcutta trial court, and sentenced to three months’ rigorous imprisonment.
An appeal is pending against the trial court judgment and Kunal Saha has moved Delhi High Court, praying that the punishment be enhanced.
An appeal against the Commission verdict can only be heard in the Supreme Court.