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The Supreme Court on Thursday (Mar 7) awarded an additional Rs 10 lakh in a medical negligence case to a lady who was not immediately attended to and was snubbed with the retort that ‘the people from hilly areas make unnecessary noise’.

A bench of Justices A M Sapre and Dinesh Maheshwari observed: “…the appellant is shown to be a poor lady from rural background, her contribution in ensuring the family meeting both ends also deserves due consideration. With her disablement and reduced contribution, the amount of compensation ought to be of such level as to provide relief in reasonable monetary terms to the appellant and to her family.”

It further added: “…we are of the view that the appellant deserves to be allowed further an amount of Rs 10,00,000 towards compensation, over and above the amount awarded by the State Commission and the National Commission. Having regard to the quantum of enhancement being allowed herein, it is also considered proper to grant 3 months’ time to the respondents to make the requisite payment and else, to bear the burden of interest.”

Taking a strong note of the negligence meted out to the lady by the medical professionals at the DDU/Ripon Hospital, Shimla, the court said “Such granting of reasonability higher amount of compensation in the present case appears necessary to serve dual purposes: one, to provide some succour and support to the appellant against the hardship and disadvantage due to amputation of right arm; and second, to send the message to the professionals that their responsiveness and diligence has to be equi-balanced for all their consumers and all the human beings deserve to be treated with equal respect and sensitivity. We are impelled to make these observations in the context of an uncomfortable fact indicated on record that when the appellant was writhing in pain, she was not immediately attended at and was snubbed with the retort that ‘the people from hilly areas make unnecessary noise’. Such remarks, obviously, added insult to the injury and were least expected of the professionals on public duties”.

The petitioner Shoda Devi had filed the plea before the apex court seeking enhancement of the amount of compensation with reference to the disablement and loss suffered by her due to the negligence of the respondents, which led to the amputation of her right arm above the elbow.

Read the judgment here.

—India Legal Bureau

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