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Advocates Association Accuses Acting President Of Maharashtra Consumer Commission Of 'Judicial Misconduct' For Adjudicating A Case Against Himself, Demands Action

Sharmeen Hakim
5 March 2022 5:06 AM GMT
Advocates Association Accuses Acting President Of Maharashtra Consumer Commission Of Judicial Misconduct For Adjudicating A Case Against Himself, Demands Action
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The Consumer Courts' Advocates Association Maharashtra and Goa has accused the acting president of the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (Maharashtra) – Dr Santosh Kakade - of "judicial misconduct" for dismissing a medical negligence case against himself. He restored the case last month. The association has written to the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission...

The Consumer Courts' Advocates Association Maharashtra and Goa has accused the acting president of the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (Maharashtra) – Dr Santosh Kakade - of "judicial misconduct" for dismissing a medical negligence case against himself. He restored the case last month.

The association has written to the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) and Bombay High Court pursuant to a resolution by the association seeking action against him.

According to the minutes of the General Body Meeting, on August 10, 2021 Dr Kakade, took up an appeal filed in 2002 against dismissal of a medical negligence case by the consumer forum in Solapur. He was one of the respondents in the appeal. Sitting singly in his capacity as a non-judicial member Dr Kakade recorded that none of the parties were present and dismissed the appeal for want of prosecution.

"This matter is taken from sine-die list. None present for parties inspite of issuing notices to them. It appears that the Appellant is not interested in prosecuting the appeal. Hence the appeal is dismissed in default," the order read.

The association claimed that being one of the parties and presiding over the bench, he couldn't have observed that "none present…" The urgent GBM was held on February 27, after Association received an official complaint from Dr Gopinath Shenoy on February 18, 2022.

After one of the members of the bar obtained a certified copy of the dismissal order on February 2, and a day after the matter was discussed in the Managing Committee meeting on 14th February, 2022, the said matter was taken on board on 15th February, 2022 and the order of dismissal was set aside and appeal restored, according to the association.

Now acting president of SCDRC Dr Kakade and another member from Aurangabad who joined the proceedings virtually were on the panel that restored appeal. In the order of restoration, the panel observed that the dismissal was "inadvertent" due to absence of parties.

According to the restoration order, the error was pointed out by Commission's PRO. It noted that since "the member of this Commission, who is party to this matter, cannot sit as a judge on his own cause" and "in view of the principle of natural justice, when one of the officers as member of the Commission has committed inadvertent error, due to which party should not be suffered" the earlier order is set aside and appeal restored.

However, according to the association, no order was passed to take the matter on record, neither was a notice issued to the parties that a dismissed matter was going to be taken up on February 15. Even the SOP was not followed for listing in the absence of urgency pleaded.

The association claims that "both the orders i.e. order of dismissal of appeal as also of restoration are absolutely illegal." Further, that the association had separately received behaviour complaints.

Dr Shenoy stated in the meeting that he wanted to file an application in another case and asked the in-charge president to recuse himself. However, neither did he recuse himself nor take the application on record. Therefore the application was given to the registry.

CASE

One Bapurao S Rawade filed a consumer complaint in the consumer forum, Solapur, in the late 1990s against Manav Smriti Hospital and Dr. Santosh K Kakade ( a surgeon) alleging medical negligence.

Dr Kakade filed his written statement in the original complaint which came to be dismissed. The complainant challenged the order of dismissal in 2002 in the SCDRC. The appeal was admitted and adjourned sine die. This appeal was allegedly adjudicated by Dr Kakade.

The Association Resolved

1.To write to the NCDRC, Bombay HC, CMO

2.Take appropriate legal action like filing a writ petition for removal

3.Protest

4.Pending inquiry to abstain from appearing before the specific bench of the commission. (Final decision on this is yet to be taken)

Advocate Uday Warunjikar, president of the association said "The bar has approached competent authorities after unanimous resolution was passed raising questions of integrity of the in-charge president Dr Santosh Kakade of the State consumer disputes redressal commission. We will wait for authorities to take appropriate action on our representations."

LiveLaw sought Dr Kakade's response on Friday, however no comment was received till the time of going to press. The copy will be updated as and when Dr Kakade decides to respond.

Click Here To Read Resolution


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