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Supreme Court Sets Aside NCDRC Order Awarding Compensation To Woman Who Gave Birth Despite Undergoing Tubectomy Surgery

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
22 Sep 2022 4:08 AM GMT
medical negligence, res ipsa loquitor
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The Supreme Court set aside an NCDRC order that directed a hospital to pay compensation to a woman who delivered a child despite undergoing tubectomy procedure.

In this case, a woman underwent tubectomy procedure twice, though both the procedures remained unsuccessful. She gave birth to a male child in the year 2003. She filed a complaint before the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum alleging medical negligence on account of failed tubectomy surgery. The same was dismissed on the ground that the hospital is not a consumer. The State Consumer Commission (SCDRC) affirmed this order. Later, National Consumer Commission (NCDRC) allowed revision petition and directed to pay compensation as per the guidelines and the policy of the State.

Before the Apex Court, the Hospital raised two contentions (1) that Doctors and hospitals who render service without any charge to every person availing of the service would not fall within the ambit of 'service' under Section 2(1)(o) of the Act [relied on Indian Medical Association Vs. V.P. Shantha & Ors., (1995) 6 SCC 651 ] (2) that the failed tubectomy surgery is not a case of medical negligence as the sterilized woman can become pregnant due to natural causes. [relied on State of Punjab Vs. Shiv Ram & Ors., (2005) 7 SCC 1].

The bench, taking notice of the law laid down in the decisions relied on by the appellants, allowed the appeal by setting aside the NCDRC order. However, if any amount has been paid to the respondent in terms of the Order of the NCDRC, the same shall not be recovered by the State, the bench said.

In V.P. Shantha, it was observed thus: "Doctors and hospitals who render service without any charge whatsoever to every person availing of the service would not fall within the ambit of 'service' under Section 2(1)(o) of the Act. The payment of a token amount for registration purposes only would not alter the position in respect of such doctors and hospitals."

Regarding failed tubectomy surgery, the Apex Court in Shiv Ram (supra), had observed thus: "The cause of action for claiming compensation in cases of failed sterilization operation arises on account of negligence of the surgeon and not on account of child birth. Failure due to natural causes would not provide any ground for claim. It is for the woman who has conceived the child to go or not to go for medical termination of pregnancy. Having gathered the knowledge of conception in spite of having undergone sterilization operation, if the couple opts for bearing the child, it ceases to be an unwanted child. Compensation for maintenance and upbringing of such a child cannot be claimed."

Case details

Civil Hospital vs Manjit Singh | 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 781 | CA 6208/ 2022 | 6 September 2022 | Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia

Headnotes

Consumer Protection Act, 1986 - Medical Negligence - The cause of action for claiming compensation in cases of failed sterilization operation arises on account of negligence of the surgeon and not on account of child birth. Failure due to natural causes would not provide any ground for claim. It is for the woman who has conceived the child to go or not to go for medical termination of pregnancy. Having gathered the knowledge of conception in spite of having undergone sterilization operation, if the couple opts for bearing the child, it ceases to be an unwanted child. Compensation for maintenance and upbringing of such a child cannot be claimed - Referred to State of Punjab Vs. Shiv Ram & Ors., (2005) 7 SCC 1.

Consumer Protection Act, 1986 ; Section 2(1)(o) - Doctors and hospitals who render service without any charge whatsoever to every person availing of the service would not fall within the ambit of 'service' under Section 2(1)(o) of the Act. The payment of a token amount for registration purposes only would not alter the position in respect of such doctors and hospitals - Referred to Indian Medical Association Vs. V.P. Shantha & Ors., (1995) 6 SCC 651.

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