This is the first time such a huge compensation has been awarded by the Supreme Court in a medical negligence by way of enhancing the Rs 15.5 lakh awarded by the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commssion.The victim Prashant Dhanaka had argued his own case brilliantly in the Supreme Court which recorded appreciation for the same.
The victim, who went to the hospital for removal of a tumor on September 19, 1990, in chest cavity, was negligently operated upon by doctors resulting in the medical condition known as "paraplegia" which rendered him paralytic for entire life.The disability, which struck Dhanaka when he was just 20 years old, made him incapable of even performing his personal chores necessiating a constant attendant, besides making him invalid for a married life.A three-judge bench of Justices B N Aggrawal, G S Singhvi and H S Bedi, after perusual of the records, came to the conclusion that Dhanaka had suffered the disability mainly on account of negligence.
"We have no other option but to conclude that the attending doctors were seriously remiss in the conduct of the operation and it was on account of this neglect the paraplegia had set in," the apex court observed.
The apex court, while awarding the compensation, took into consideration various factors like possible future income of Dhanaka, cutting short of a brilliant career, loss of possible marital life, future expenditure on attendants and medicines, besides the huge emotional, mental and physical trauma that would constantly affect him and the family.
The apex court said the Rs one crore compensation should be awarded at the rate of six percent interest from March 1999 when the NCDRC had passed the original compensation award.
"Support necessary for a severely handicapped person comes at an enormous price, physical, financial and emotional, not only on the victim but even more so on his family and the attendant, that saps their energy and destroys the equanimity," the bench said.
The apex court apppreciated the manner in which the victim appeared in person and argued his case brilliantly without any rancour.
"We must record that though a sense of deep injury was discernible through his protracted stugggle while confined to a wheel chair, he remained unruffled and behaved with quiet dignity, pleading his own case bereft of any rancour or invective for those who in his perception had harmed him", the apex court said.
The apex court, however, noted that Dhanaka had made an exagerrated and unreasonable claim of Rs seven crore which cannot be awarded by it.