A father's fight, energised by 'sun'

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By ANANYA SENGUPTA in Delhi
  • Published 9.08.09
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New Delhi, Aug. 9: Mihir Banerjee has suddenly found the first ray of hope in his fight for justice. And he can’t thank Kunal Saha enough.

The Calcutta-based Indian Audit and Accounts official’s 12-year-old daughter died because of alleged medical negligence eight years ago. NRI doctor Kunal, too, lost his wife to an alleged steroid overdose 11 years ago.

Banerjee’s surge of optimism, after a seemingly hopeless battle for years, came on Friday, when the Supreme Court accepted Saha’s right to compensation from the doctors and Calcutta’s AMRI hospital where his wife Anuradha died.

To Banerjee, whose special leave petition in the apex court comes up for hearing tomorrow, Saha is a beacon. “He is the sun who helped me get energy. His tenacity and strength are unparalleled,” Banerjee, in his late forties, said.

A local doctor had given Banerjee’s daughter Ishita an injection of Zofar, usually prescribed for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, after nausea and vomiting following a 2001 wedding feast. The injection led to diarrhoea and neurological complications. She died the same night.

“The doctor didn’t even check my daughter’s pulse, temperature and pressure. He just gave her Zinetac, for indigestion, and Zofar injections.”

The West Bengal Medical Council dismissed his complaint in February 2003, saying it didn’t find any evidence of negligence. The appellate authority in the Bengal government’s health department reached the same conclusion.

In 2005, the Medical Council of India endorsed the state council’s decision, as did the state and national consumer forums later. “The National Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum said it didn’t find any errors in the judgment (of the doctor). I and my wife felt like living dead,” said a teary-eyed Banerjee, sitting in a corner of a news conference today where Saha was recalling his own battle for justice.

Matters started looking up for Banerjee once he approached Saha’s forum. “Saha’s People for Better Treatment helped me a lot. Since Saha is a qualified doctor, his advice was invaluable and helped me reach where I am today.”

Banerjee has had to make frequent trips to Delhi for the case but said he didn’t track the expenses.

It isn’t about money. “It’s all over for me, what will I do with money? I just want justice. I want the doctor to say he was at fault. It’s been a long and tiring fight but I will not let him go,” he says, holding up his daughter’s photograph.