The Madras High Court observed that when a negligent act was committed by a public official and the financial loss was caused to the state exchequer due to such negligence, such financial loss should be recovered from officials responsible for it.

The Bench of Justice S.M. Subramaniam observed that "when the Public Officials have committed an act of negligence, lapses or dereliction of duty, the financial loss caused to the State Exchequer are to be recovered from such Public Servants, who all are responsible and accountable for the financial losses."

In this case, the civil writ petition was filed by the Dean of the Government Medical College Hospital, Thiruvarur and District Collector, Thiravur to set aside the attachment order passed by the Sub Court attaching the movables in the office of the petitioner.

A suit was instituted, in 2015, by the respondent against the hospital, claiming compensation for medical negligence while conducting an erroneous eye surgery, which left her totally blind. A sum of Rs. 5 lakhs as compensation was granted with a direction to the hospital to pay the compensation amount within a period of three months.

Special Government Pleader A. Edwin Prabhakar appearing for the petitioners contended that the order of attachment would cause inconvenience to the Public Institutions.

The Court observed that the respondent-victim could not have been made to run pillar to post for realisation of the compensation amount, which was granted by the Trial Court in the year 2016 itself. If at all, the revision petitioners are of the opinion that they have got a better case, they should have initiated appropriate steps within a reasonable period of time.

The Court said that "Now after a lapse of about six years from the date of decree, if a lenient view is taken by this Court, then the same will result in an injustice to the medical victim, who lost both her eyes and became blind totally on account of the surgery conducted in the Government Medical College Hospital at Thiruvarur."

The Court also observed that "the State has to pay the compensation amount and thereafter recover the same amount from the Doctors and the Officials, who have committed an act of medical negligence, administrative 6/10 CRP SR No.146353 of 2022 lapses or dereliction of duty. The financial loss to the public is to be recovered proportionately by fixing the responsibility amongst all the officials, who have committed an act of administrative lapses, negligence and dereliction of duty. In this regard, the revision petitioners are bound to conduct an enquiry and initiate all appropriate action following the Service Rules, which all are applicable."

The Court further said that they did not find any reason to interfere with the order of attachment passed by the Execution Court and directed the petitioners to deposit the decree amount of Rs. 5 lakhs to the credit of the Execution Order.

Accordingly, the Civil Writ Petition was disposed of.

Cause Title- The Dean, Government Medical College Hospital & Anr. v. Vijayakumari

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