19 Aug 2023 1:00 PM GMT
The Uttrakhand State Consumer Commission comprising Mr. Justice D.S. Tripathi (President) and Mr. Udai Singh Tolia (Member) allowed the appeal filed by Dr. Santosh Gaydhankar (Appellant) against Sandeep Kumar (Complainant) and Jaya Maxwell Hospital. The appeal was filed before the State Commission against the Haridwar District Commission order which ex-parte allowed the complaint...
The Uttrakhand State Consumer Commission comprising Mr. Justice D.S. Tripathi (President) and Mr. Udai Singh Tolia (Member) allowed the appeal filed by Dr. Santosh Gaydhankar (Appellant) against Sandeep Kumar (Complainant) and Jaya Maxwell Hospital.
The appeal was filed before the State Commission against the Haridwar District Commission order which ex-parte allowed the complaint and directed the Appellant and Jaya Maxwell Hospital to refund a sum of Rs. 600/- for charges of ultrasound report, pay Rs. 5 Lakhs towards mental & physical agony and Rs. 10,000/- towards litigation expenses. In addition, they are also directed to pay an amount of Rs. 20 Lakhs each towards special compensation.
The Complainant’s wife was four months pregnant and had received a Mother and Child Protection Card from the Department of Medical Health and Family Welfare, Uttarakhand Government. She had also undergone vaccinations as per the card's instructions.
On August 18, 2020, the complainant and his wife visited the Bahadrabad Community Health Centre for a medical examination. During this visit, the wife was advised to undergo an ultrasound test for which they visited Jaya Maxwell Hospital, where the Appellant performed the ultrasound. The hospital charged Rs. 600 for the procedure, and the Appellant prepared the ultrasound report. Strangely, the report indicated a single live intrauterine gestation of 30 weeks and 6 days in cephalic presentation, with a fetal weight of 1641 grams. However, the complainant's wife was only four months pregnant at the time, making the report clearly incorrect.
Realizing the error, the Complainant went to Dr. Shiromani Hospital in Roorkee where another ultrasound was done. This new report matched the details on the Mother and Child Protection Card issued by the Uttarakhand Government's Health Department. The complainant and his wife suffered mental and physical distress due to the incorrect ultrasound report from the Appellant and Jaya Maxwell Hospital. There was a risk that the wife's life could have been endangered by this mistake. As a result, the complainant initiated a consumer complaint with the District Commission.
The District Commission sent notices to the Appellant and Jaya Maxwell Hospital to which they did not appear, leading to a closure to submit written statements. Despite this, Jaya Maxwell Hospital submitted evidence in the form of an affidavit. After hearing arguments, the District Commission allowed the complaint to which the Appellant has filed an appeal.
Contentions of the Appellant:
The Appellant argued that the judgment and order were issued ex-parte by the District Commission and asserted that no opportunity was given to file written submissions to rebut the claims in the consumer complaint. He stated that the appeal be allowed and the matter should be reverted to the District Commission for a fresh decision.
He contended that he never received any summons or notices from the District Commission concerning the consumer complaint in question and thus, had no opportunity to present his defense. He also pointed to the application submitted by Jaya Maxwell Hospital stating the Appellant’s updated address and requested the complainant to amend their records accordingly. However, the District Commission allegedly dismissed this application erroneously and issued the judgment.
Observations of the Commission:
The State Commission allowed the appeal and noted that the District Commission had no reason to include the current address of the appellant in its judgment and order when no summons or notice had been sent to the Appellant at that address.
The State Commission found that the District Commission had passed the judgment and order ex-parte and was not able to file a written statement before the District Commission, thereby no opportunity was given to him to present his case. The Commission relied on Topline Shoes Ltd. Vs. Corporation Bank, wherein the Supreme Court emphasized that the forum or commission should exercise its discretion based on the circumstances, time frames, and principles of natural justice.
It also held that it is a well-established principle that all parties involved should have the opportunity to be heard and that the pursuit of substantial justice should take precedence over technicalities.
The State Commission pointed out that the consumer complaint filed by the complainant wasn't valid since the issue stemmed from an ultrasound report prepared by the Appellant for the complainant's wife. However, the complaint should have been filed by the wife herself, as she was the one affected by the report's alleged inaccuracy. The complainant lacked the authority of his wife to file the complaint on her behalf. The State Commission referred to a similar case, Amita Sharma vs. B.H.E.L., where the National Commission ruled that a complaint filed without proper authorization is not maintainable under the Consumer Protection Act.
The Maharashtra State Commission, in conclusion, allowed the appeal and set aside the order of the District Commission by dismissing the consumer complaint. The State Commission ordered the Commission to release the deposited amount to the Appellant.
Case Title: Dr. Santosh Gaydhankar vs. Sandeep Kumar
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