Uttarakhand Consumer Forum Refuses Compensation To Couple That Conceived After Free Sterilization Operation At Govt Hospital
The Uttarakhand State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission at Dehradun has quashed the order of District Consumer forum granting Rs. 6 lakh compensation to a couple that birthed a girl child two years after the woman underwent free sterilisation procedure at a government hospital.
A division bench of Justice D.S. Tripathi and Member Udai Singh Tolia referred to several precedents to observe that sterilization is not a 100% security against pregnancy. It also noted that the complainant had availed free service at a government hospital.
“As per the medical literature, there are chances of failure of sterilization and recanalization can take place due to natural causes…in the instant case also, the sterilization/tubectomy operation of complainant no. 1 was done at the government hospital free of cost.”
The matter reached the State Commission through an appeal filed under Section 15 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 against the order of the District Commission.
As per the complainants, there was negligence on the part of the operating doctor in conducting sterilization operation and due to the birth of the child, unwanted liability had accrued to them. Since no compensation was made after a legal notice was served, the complainants filed a consumer complaint before the District Commission.
The appellant-hospital submitted that before the sterilization operation, the complainant was duly informed that sometimes, the operation may fail, regarding which the complainant submitted her consent and also received incentive. Further, the hospital contended that as per Jeffcoate Obstetrics Guidelines, there are 0.3% chances of failure of sterilization operation. It was also submitted by the hospital that the complainant did not fall under the category of a “consumer” in the first place as no fees was charged from her for the sterilization procedure.
The State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission in its order stated that the fact that sterilization or tubectomy procedure was not 100 % secure was well settled. For this, it relied on various decisions including the Supreme Court decision in State of Punjab v. Shiv Ram and Others, (2005) CPJ 14 (SC) and the National Commission decisions in Lakshmi v. Director of Medical Services, (2008) CPJ 460 (NC) and Chief Executive Officer and Others v. Sagunabai Navalsing Chavan, 2011 (1) CCC 286 (NS), among others.
Placing specific reliance on the decision in Sagunabai, where it was held by the National Commission that the woman was not entitled to compensation since the tubectomy operation was performed free of cost and the complainant got incentive from the government for undergoing operation, the State Commission allowed the appeal of the hospital in this case.
The Commission said:
“We are of the considered opinion that the impugned judgment and order passed by learned District Commission suffers from material illegality, warranting interference by this Commission, as the District Commission has failed to consider law on the subject. Appeal is allowed. Impugned judgment and order dated 23.04.2019 passed by the District Commission is set aside and consumer complaint No. 201 of 2015 is dismissed.”
The Commission further added that the amount which was deposited with the Commission shall be released in in favour of the appellants.
Advocate Ashok Dimri, A.D.G.C. (Civil), Dehradun appeared for the appellant and Advocate Guru Prasad appeared for the respondents.
Case Title: Chief Medical Officer Roshnabad, Haridwar v. Rajkumari and Another
Citation: First Appeal No. 191/2019
Coram: Justice D.S. Tripathi and Udai Singh Tolia
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