Compensation Amount Cannot Be Enhanced In Absence Of Any Cogent Reasons: SC In Medical Negligence Case
The Supreme Court's Bench of Justice MR Shah and Justice Krishna Murari has held that the amount of compensation cannot be enhanced without any cogent reasons and/or material.
In this case, a minor girl had filed a consumer complaint before the District Forum through her father alleging medical negligence against the appellants-Nursing home, as she had suffered from wrong diagnosis and wrong treatment, which led to rashes on her body.
It was alleged that the doctor, who treated her was not competent to prescribe allopathic medicines, which amounted to medical negligence.
The District Forum had directed the appellants to pay an amount of Rs. 1 lakh holding that there was a negligence on the part of the appellants
Upon an appeal by the appellants before the state commission, the State Commission dismissed the said appeal with a cost of Rs. 10,000/.
Feeling aggrieved, the appellants, preferred a revision petition/application before the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.
The National Commission enhanced the amount of compensation to Rs. 10 lakhs while dismissing the revision petition/application preferred by the appellants.
Senior Advocate, Gopal Sankaranarayana appearing for the appellants submitted that the National Commission was not justified in enhancing the amount of compensation in the revision application/petition preferred by the appellants when neither any appeal was preferred by the original complainant before the State Commission, nor thereafter any further appeal or revision application was filed by the original complainant before the National Commission.
On the other hand, Advocate K.K. Mohan, appearing on behalf of the original complainant – Respondent heavily relied upon Section 21(b) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
He submitted even in absence of any appeal and/or revision application preferred by the complainant, the National Commission can enhance the amount of compensation in the exercise of suo moto revisional jurisdiction conferred under Section 21(b) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
At the outset, the Supreme Court refused to interfere with the concurrent findings recorded by the District Forum, the State Commission, and the National Commission on the negligence on the part of the appellants.
However, the Court observed that the original complainant never challenged the order passed by the District Forum aggrieved by the quantum of compensation determined by the District Forum.
Therefore, the Court noted that the National Commission could have dismissed the revision application unless the National Commission specifically exercises a suo moto revisional power in the exercise of the powers under Section 21(b) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
"In the present case, from the impugned judgment and order passed by the National Commission, it does not appear that the National Commission exercised the suo moto revisional power. Even the appellants herein – original revisionists were not put to notice that the National Commission is to enhance the amount of compensation in exercise of the revisional power - the suo moto revisional jurisdiction. The appellants herein – original revisionists are taken by surprise and the National Commission without giving any opportunity to them has enhanced the amount of compensation.", the Court observed.
The Court further noted that the amount of compensation varies from person to person, looking to the damages and/or disability suffered/sustained. The Court held that merely because in some cases, the amount of compensation has been enhanced, in other cases, the amount of compensation cannot be enhanced.
The Court held that the Order of National Commission enhancing the compensation amount was unsustainable.
However, the Court raised the compensation amount to Rs. 4 lakh rupees instead of Rs. 1 lakh awarded by the District Forum.
"…it is stated that the family has spent thousands of rupees for her treatment and medicines and so stated in the counter affidavit that even today the complainant has not recovered completely and is under treatment, we are of the opinion that the amount of Rs. 1 lakh awarded by the District Forum is required to be enhanced in exercise of the powers under Article 142 of the Constitution of India so as to do the substantial justice to the complainant.", the Court expressed.
Cause Title- Chandigarh Nursing Home and Anr. v. Sukhdeep Kaur