India: Medical Negligence - Legal Aspect In India

Civil Appeal No.2867 of 2012 with Civil Appeal No.692 of 2012 with Civil Appeal No.2866 of 2012 with Civil Appeal No.731 of 2012 Civil Appeal No.858 of 2012-Decided on 24-10-2013.

Bench of Hon'ble S.C. comprising S. J Mukhopa dhaya and V. Gopala Gowda , JJ.

Hon'ble Apex Court in matter 'Dr. Balram Prasad Vs. Dr. Kunal Saha & Ors.' & other connected cross appeals1 has recently awarded a historic verdict having a major impact on medical negligence and standard of medical care in India.

The Supreme Court vide its Judgment enhanced the compensation amount of Rs 1.73 crore, which was awarded by the National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission (NCDRC) in 2011 to the tune of Rs 5.96 crore and asked the Kolkata- based Advanced Medicare and Research Institute (AMRI) and the doctors to pay the amount and also asked to pay interest at the rate of 6 per cent from the date of filing of the complaint in 1999 till the actual date of payment to Kunal Saha, a US-based Indian- origin doctor for medical negligence, which led to the death of his wife in 1998.

The NCDRC earlier found no negligence by doctors or AMRI and had dismissed the case in 2006. The Supreme Court in 2009 had held AMRI and the doctors guilty of negligence and the case was referred to the NCDRC for the sole purpose of determining quantum of compensation. The National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission (NCDRC) earlier in 2011 had awarded Rs.1.73 crore. Cross appeals were also filed by AMRI and three doctors against the Commission's award. The Apex Court in its Judgment has partly allowed the appeals of claimant.

Hon'ble Apex court hold the three doctors and the hospital culpable to civil liability for medical negligence which had led to the death of Anuradha, a child psychologist and wife of claimant Dr. Kunal Saha, who had come to her home town Kolkata in March 1998 on a summer vacation. Deceased complained of skin rashes on April 25 and consulted Dr Sukumar Mukherjee, who, advised her only to take rest without prescribing any medicine. However, skin rashes resurfaced again with greater passion in early May. Dr Mukherjee prescribed Depomedrol injection 80 mg twice daily to be taken on daily basis, however this prescription of Dr. Mukherjee was not approved by experts at the apex court, at the apex court. Administration of injection led to deterioration of Anuradha's condition, following which she had to be admitted at AMRI on 11 May under Dr Mukherjee's supervision and subsequently she was shifted to Mumbai's Breach Candy Hospital, and her diagnosis stated that she was diagnosed to be suffering from lifethreatening disease called toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN). Anuradha succumbed to her ailment on May 28, 1998.

Dr. Saha had filed both criminal as well as civil case against the doctors and hospitals on the basis of gross negligence on their part during the treatment, which led the death of her wife.

Hon'ble Supreme Court in 2009 absolved the doctors and the hospitals of criminal liability for medical negligence, however held them culpable of civil liabilities.

The Apex Court held that the deceased was earning $ 30,000 per annum at the time of her death. The appellant-doctors and the Hospital could not produce any evidence to rebut the claims of the claimant regarding the qualification of her wife. Further $30,000 per annum earned by the deceased during the time of her death was not from a regular source of income and she would have earned lot more had it been a regular source of income, having regard to her qualification and the job for which she was entitled to. Therefore, while determining the income of the deceased, Apex Court relied on the evidence on record for the purpose of determining the just, fair and reasonable compensation and her earning was determined at $40,000 per annum on a regular job. The multiplier method was applied for loss of income of deceased and estimating the life expectancy of a healthy person in the present age as 70 years, the Apex Court was inclined to award compensation accordingly by multiplying the total loss of income by 30. Keeping in view the value of Indian currency, the current value of Indian Rupee was taken at a stable rate of Rs.55/- per 1$ and accordingly under the head of 'loss of income of the deceased' the claimant was held entitled to an amount of Rs.5,72,00,550/- which is calculated as [$40,000+(30/100x40,000$)-(1/3 x 52,000$) x 30 x Rs.55/- ] = Rs.5,72,00,550/-.

In respect to claim of medical treatment of deceased at Kolkata and Mumbai, the compensation was enhanced to the tune of Rs. 7,00,000/-. The claimant was also awarded an amount of Rs.1,50,000/- as compensation towards Travel and Hotel expenses at Bombay.

Hon'ble Apex Court while calculating Non-pecuniary damages has considered various facts and precedents e.g. Arun Kumar Agarwal Vs. National Insurance Company2, wherein it has been held that in India the courts have recognized that the contribution made by the wife to the house is invaluable and cannot be computed in terms of money. The gratuitous services rendered by the wife with true love and affection to the children and her husband and managing the household affairs cannot be equated with the services rendered by others. A wife/mother does not work by the clock. She is in the constant attendance of the family throughout the day and night unless she is employed and is required to attend the employer's work for particular hours. She takes care of all the requirements of the husband and children including cooking of food, washing of clothes, etc. She teaches small children and provides invaluable guidance to them for their future life. A housekeeper or maidservant can do the household work, such as cooking food, washing clothes and utensils, keeping the house clean, etc., but she can never be a substitute for a wife/mother who renders selfless service to her husband and children. It was also observed that it is not possible to quantify any amount in lieu of the services rendered by the wife/mother to the family i.e. the husband and children. However, for the purpose of award of compensation to the dependants, some pecuniary estimate has to be made of the services of the housewife/mother. In that context, the term "services" is required to be given a broad meaning and must be construed by taking into account the loss of personal care and attention given by the deceased to her children as a mother and to her husband as a wife. They are entitled to adequate compensation in lieu of the loss of gratuitous services rendered by the deceased. The amount payable to the dependants cannot be diminished on the ground that some close relation like a grandmother may volunteer to render some of the services to the family which the deceased was giving earlier.

In a three judge Bench decision Apex Court in the case of Rajesh & Ors. Vs. Rajvir Singh and Ors.3, this Court held that "The concept of non-pecuniary damage for loss of consortium is one of the major heads of award of compensation in other parts of the world more particularly in the United States of America, Australia, etc. English Courts have also recognized the right of a spouse to get compensation even during the period of temporary disablement. By loss of consortium, the courts have made an attempt to compensate the loss of spouse's affection, comfort, solace, companionship, society, assistance, protection, care and sexual relations during the future years. Unlike the compensation awarded in other countries and other jurisdictions, since the legal heirs are otherwise adequately compensated for the pecuniary loss, it would not be proper to award a major amount under this head. Keeping in view all these, the Apex Court awarded Rupees One Lakh for loss of consortium."

The claim of Rs.4,50,00,000/- by the claimant Under the heading of loss due to pain and suffering was held excessive. A lump sum amount of Rs.10 lakhs was awarded to the claimant following the Nizam Institute's case (supra) and also applying the principles laid in Kemp and Kemp on the "Quantum of Damages", under the head of 'pain and suffering of the claimant's wife during the course of treatment'.

In summary, the details of compensation under different heads are hereunder:

Citing an earlier apex court judgment holding the right to health a fundamental right guaranteed under the Constitution's Article 21, the court said doctors and hospitals are to be dealt with strictly if found "negligent with the patients who come to them pawning all their money with the hope to live a better life with dignity". "The patients irrespective of their social, cultural and economic background are entitled to be treated with dignity which not only forms their fundamental right but also their human right".

Noting an increasing number of medical negligence cases coming before the consumer forums, the court said it hopes this verdict "acts as a deterrent and a reminder to those doctors, hospitals, the nursing homes and other connected establishments who do not take their responsibility seriously".


1. 2013 STPL(Web) 850 SC

2. Section 2(m) of W.T. Act

3. [ 2013 (6) SCALE 563]

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:
  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.
  • Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.
    If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here
    If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here

    Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

    Use of

    You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


    Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

    The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


    Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

    • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
    • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
    • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

    Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

    Information Collection and Use

    We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

    We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

    Mondaq News Alerts

    In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


    A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

    Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

    Log Files

    We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


    This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

    Surveys & Contests

    From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


    If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


    From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

    *** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


    This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

    Correcting/Updating Personal Information

    If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

    Notification of Changes

    If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

    How to contact Mondaq

    You can contact us with comments or queries at

    If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.

    By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions