Read Order: State of Uttar Pradesh vs. B.P Mishra

Pankaj Bajpai

New Delhi, March 24, 2022: The Supreme Court has stayed the award of compensation of Rs 25 lakh in a case of medical negligence by the Allahabad High Court, observing that none of the doctors concerned were made party to the proceedings and the manner in which the PIL was initiated and dealt with by the High Court was not a proper remedy.

A Larger Bench of Justice Uday Umesh Lalit, Justice S. Ravindra Bhat and Justice Pamidighantam Sri Narasimha opined that the complainant, who has a grievance that his son died as a result of professional negligence on part of the concerned hospital and treating doctors, has every remedy in law either on the criminal side or before a consumer forum or before any other competent authority. 

The bench, therefore, gave liberty to the respondent to initiate such proceedings as are open to him in law, and clarified that as and when such proceedings are initiated, the time taken in prosecuting the instant PIL shall be reckoned for the purposes of Section 14 of the Limitation Act, 1963 and in such eventuality, the proceedings so initiated shall be taken to the logical conclusion purely on their own merits, without being influenced by any of the observations made by the High Court.

The Allahabad High Court had takencognizance of letter addressed by the respondent to one of the Judges of the High Court, which highlighted certain facts and asserted that the son of the respondent who was about 25 years of age and was a practicing Advocate in the Allahabad High Court, died as a result of negligence on part of the treating doctors and the hospital where he was admitted for medical attention.

In said Public Interest Litigation, the High Court issued certain interim directions for payment of compensation of Rs 25 lakh in view of gross medical negligence on the part of the doctors of S.R.N. Medical College. As a result, affidavits came to be filed by the Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Government of U.P., Lucknow. 

After considering the submissions, the Supreme Court found that none of the treating doctors was a party to the proceedings. 

The top court held that during the course of its judgment, the High Court arrived at certain conclusions which were in the nature of findings on the issue of negligence on part of the concerned hospital and the treating doctors, and such findings and conclusions are definitely prejudicial to the interest of the treating doctors and the hospital.

Leaving aside the question whether in a PILthe matter could be seen whether any negligence had occurred in an individual case, the Apex Court observed that the basic feature of the matter as it emerges is quite clear that none of the persons who could get adversely affected by a decision was made a party to the proceedings.

The Apex Court, therefore, set aside the findings and the conclusions in the judgment of the High Court under appeal about negligence on part of the hospital and the treating doctors and the operative directions issued in paragraph 20 of the judgment. 

However, the directions issued in paragraph 23 are left untouched and shall be operative, clarified the Top Court.

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