Chandigarh Nursing Home and Anr. Versus Sukhdeep Kaur - Supreme Court Case

Chandigarh Nursing Home and Anr. Versus Sukhdeep Kaur - Supreme Court Case

Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले



REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 5931 OF 2022
Chandigarh Nursing Home and Anr. …Appellant(s)
Versus
Sukhdeep Kaur …Respondent(s)
J U D G M E N T
M.R. SHAH, J.
1. Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the impugned judgment
and order dated 03.01.2022 passed by the National Consumer Disputes
Redressal Commission, New Delhi (hereinafter referred to as the
“National Commission”) in Revision Petition No. 4677 of 2013 by which
in a revision petition preferred by the appellants herein – original
respondents, the National Commission has enhanced the amount of
compensation from Rs. 1 lakh awarded by the District Forum to Rs. 10
lakhs, the original respondents have preferred the present appeal.
2. The issue involved in the present appeal is in a very narrow
compass.
3. The facts leading to the present appeal in nutshell are as under:-
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3.1 The respondent herein – the original complainant, a minor filed a
consumer complaint before the District Forum through her father alleging
medical negligence against the appellants herein, who suffered from
wrong diagnosis and wrong treatment, which led to rashes on her body,
and which became beyond control. It was alleged that the doctor, who
treated her was a BAMS (Ayurveda Doctor) and was not competent to
prescribe allopathic medicines, which amounts to medical negligence.
3.2 The District Forum by order dated 11.03.2010 directed the
appellants to pay an amount of Rs. 1 lakh alongwith interest @ 9% from
the date of order holding that there was a negligence on the part of the
appellants.
3.3 Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the order passed by the
District Forum, the appellants preferred an appeal before the State
Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Punjab (hereinafter referred
to as “State Commission”) . At this stage, it is required to be noted that
so far as the original complainant is concerned, it is an admitted position
that the original complainant did not prefer any appeal before the State
Commission to enhance the amount of compensation and it was the
appellants, who preferred the appeal before the State Commission. The
State Commission dismissed the said appeal with cost of Rs. 10,000/-.
3.4 Being aggrieved by the judgment and order passed by the State
Commission dismissing the appeal and confirming the order passed by
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the District Forum awarding a sum of Rs. 1 lakh towards the
compensation, it was the appellants, who preferred the revision
petition/application before the National Commission.
3.5 While dismissing the revision petition/application preferred by the
appellants herein, the National Commission has enhanced the amount of
compensation to Rs. 10 lakhs. Being aggrieved by the order passed by
the National Commission enhancing the amount of compensation to Rs.
10 lakhs, that too, in the revision petition/application preferred by the
appellants, the original opponents/appellants have preferred the present
appeal.
4. Shri Gopal Sankaranarayana, learned Senior Advocate has
appeared on behalf of the appellants and Shri K.K. Mohan, learned
counsel has appeared on behalf of the respondent – original
complainant.
5. Shri Gopal Sankaranarayana, learned Senior Advocate appearing
on behalf of the appellants has assailed the findings recorded by the
District Forum, confirmed by the State Commission and the National
Commission, on the negligence held to be proved on the part of the
appellants. However, as there are concurrent findings recorded by the
District Forum, the State Commission and the National Commission on
the negligence on the part of the appellants, we see no reason to
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interfere with the said finding of facts in exercise of powers under Article
136 of the Constitution of India.
5.1 However, at the same time, learned Senior Advocate appearing on
behalf of the appellants is right in submitting that in a revision application
preferred by the appellants aggrieved by the order passed by the District
Forum, awarding a sum of Rs. 1 lakh towards compensation, and that
when neither any appeal was preferred by the original complainant
before the State Commission, nor thereafter any further appeal and/or
revision application was filed by the original complainant before the
National Commission, the National Commission was not justified in
enhancing the amount of compensation in the revision
application/petition preferred by the appellants. It is also the case on
behalf of the appellants that even otherwise and as such while awarding
an enhanced compensation of Rs. 10 lakhs, the National Commission
has not at all considered any disability and according to the learned
Senior Advocate appearing on behalf of the appellants as such there is
no basis at all to award Rs. 10 lakhs towards the compensation.
5.2 Learned Senior Advocate appearing on behalf of the appellants
has submitted that while enhancing the amount of compensation to
Rs. 10 lakhs, the National Commission has considered some decisions
of this Hon’ble Court referred to in paragraph 14 of the impugned
judgment and order. However, according to the learned Senior Advocate
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appearing on behalf of the appellants, the amount of compensation
depends upon the facts and circumstances of each case and depends
upon the disability and/or suffering by the complainant and it varies from
case to case. It is submitted that merely because in some cases, the
amount of compensation has been enhanced in other cases, the amount
of compensation is not required to be enhanced automatically.
6. On the other hand, Shri K.K. Mohan, learned counsel appearing on
behalf of the original complainant – respondent has heavily relied upon
Section 21(b) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. Relying upon
Section 21(b) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, it is submitted that
the National Commission has suo moto revisional jurisdiction and
therefore, even in absence of any appeal and/or revision application
preferred by the complainant, the National Commission can enhance the
amount of compensation in exercise of suo moto revisional jurisdiction
conferred under Section 21(b) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. In
the alternative, it is submitted by Shri Mohan, learned counsel appearing
on behalf of the respondent that looking to the physical condition of the
complainant and even today she is suffering, therefore, this Court may
not interfere with the impugned judgment and order passed by the
National Commission enhancing the amount of compensation.
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7. Having heard the learned counsel appearing on behalf of the
respective parties, it emerges that the District Forum awarded a sum of
Rs. 1 lakh as compensation to the original complainant. However, the
original complainant did not carry the matter further to the State
Commission and the appellants herein – original opponents being
aggrieved by the order of District Forum preferred the appeal before the
State Commission. The State Commission dismissed the appeal and
the appellants herein – original respondents being aggrieved by the
order passed by the State Commission preferred the revision
petition/application before the National Commission. At no point of time,
the original complainant challenged the order passed by the District
Forum aggrieved by the quantum of compensation determined by the
District Forum. Therefore, as such, the order passed by the District
Forum attained finality insofar as the original complainant is concerned.
In a revision application preferred by the original respondents –
appellants herein challenging the order passed by the District Forum
confirmed by the State Commission, the National Commission while
dismissing the revision application has enhanced the amount of
compensation. At the most, the National Commission could have
dismissed the revision application unless the National Commission
specifically exercises a suo moto revisional power in exercise of the
powers under Section 21(b) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. In
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the present case, from the impugned judgment and order passed by the
National Commission, it does not appear that the National Commission
exercised the suo moto revisional power. Even the appellants herein –
original revisionists were not put to notice that the National Commission
is to enhance the amount of compensation in exercise of the revisional
power - the suo moto revisional jurisdiction. The appellants herein –
original revisionists are taken by surprise and the National Commission
without giving any opportunity to them has enhanced the amount of
compensation. Therefore, on this ground also, the impugned judgment
and order passed by the National Commission enhancing the amount of
compensation in the revision application preferred by the appellants
herein is unsustainable.
7.1 Even otherwise, in absence of any cogent reasons and/or material,
the National Commission is not justified in enhancing the amount of
compensation to Rs. 10 lakhs. While enhancing the amount of
compensation to Rs. 10 lakhs, the National Commission has just
referred to few decisions of this Court in paragraph 14 and thereafter has
straightaway enhanced the amount of compensation. It is to be noted
that the amount of compensation varies from person to person, looking
to the damages and/or disability suffered/sustained. Merely because in
some cases, the amount of compensation has been enhanced, in other
cases, the amount of compensation cannot be enhanced. While
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enhancing the amount of compensation to Rs. 10 lakhs as such, the
learned National Commission has not at all discussed the disability
suffered by the complainant. Therefore, also, the impugned judgment
and order passed by the National Commission enhancing the amount of
compensation to Rs. 10 lakhs is unsustainable.
7.2 However, at the same time, we are of the opinion that looking to
the negligence held to be proved and the trauma and the sufferings by
the complainant, and that at the relevant time the compensation
determined was Rs. 1 lakh only and it is stated that the family has spent
thousands of rupees for her treatment and medicines and so stated in
the counter affidavit that even today the complainant has not recovered
completely and is under treatment, we are of the opinion that the amount
of Rs. 1 lakh awarded by the District Forum is required to be enhanced
in exercise of the powers under Article 142 of the Constitution of India so
as to do the substantial justice to the complainant. We are of the
opinion that if the amount of compensation is enhanced to a total sum of
Rs. 4 lakhs (instead of Rs. 1 lakh awarded by the District Forum), the
same shall meet the ends of justice.
8. In view of the above and for the reasons stated above, the
impugned judgment and order passed by the National Commission
enhancing the amount of compensation to Rs. 10 lakhs is hereby
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quashed and set aside. However, in exercise of the powers under Article
142 of the Constitution of India and for the reasons stated herein above,
we direct the appellants to pay a total sum of Rs. 4 lakhs (instead of Rs.
1 lakh awarded by the District Forum) to the respondent herein, after
deducting whatever amount as deposited by the appellants. We direct
the appellants to pay to the original complainant balance amount after
deducting the amount already deposited, within a period of six weeks
from today, failing which, it shall carry an interest @ 7.5%. The original
complainant is permitted to withdraw the amount already deposited by
the appellants with interest accrued thereon, which shall be paid to the
original complainant by account payee cheque and/or on giving the
particulars of the bank account, the same be deposited/credited in the
bank account of the original complainant.
The present appeal is disposed of accordingly in the aforesaid
manner.
………………………………….J.
 [M.R. SHAH]
NEW DELHI; ………………………………….J.
SEPTEMBER 09, 2022. [KRISHNA MURARI]
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