New Delhi: The Supreme Court has awarded a compensation of Rs 2 lakh with 12 percent interest per annum to be calculated from 2005 to an 84-year-old man who lost vision in one of his eyes because of medical negligence, in a legal battle that spanned around 20 years.

The bench of Justices B.R. Gavai and Sandeep Mehta also directed the eye specialist, Dr R.P Singh, to pay an additional Rs 50,000 to victim P.C Jain for misleading the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) into thinking that he had already paid Rs 2 lakh compensation to the octogenarian.

The apex court passed the order while allowing an appeal filed by Jain challenging the orders of the NCDRC reducing to 6 per cent the interest rate of 12 per cent fixed by the District Consumer Forum of Haryana, which had awarded the victim a compensation of Rs 2 lakh for the botched-up surgery in 2005.

Jain had further complained to the apex court that the NCDRC in an ex-parte clarificatory order passed on July 22, 2022, held that Singh was liable to pay interest only from the date of filing of the complaint in 2005 up to September 5, 2008. The order was passed by the national forum on the mere false representation made by Singh that he had already paid the amount to Jain, the octogenarian submitted.

Jain alleged that contrary to the claim, he had not been paid a single paisa of the compensation amount.

The district forum had directed the doctor to pay Rs 2 lakh with 12 per cent interest. On an appeal by the doctor, the State Consumer Commission had set aside the district forum’s award. Aggrieved, Jain had appealed to the NCDRC, which upheld the award of Rs 2 lakh but reduced the interest to 6 per cent. Following this, Jain moved the appeal in the apex court.

“The respondent Dr R.P. Singh misrepresented to the NCDRC that he had deposited an amount of Rs. 2 Lakhs only, which had been paid to the appellant-complainant P.C. Jain in the year 2011. As a matter of fact, it is the specific plea of the appellant P.C. Jain that he has not received a single penny towards compensation for the loss of vision suffered by him owing to the medical negligence committed by the respondent Dr. R.P. Singh,” Justice Sandeep Mehta, who authored the judgment, said.

“The review petition filed by Dr. R.P. Singh was allowed to ex-parte by the NCDRC in a totally cavalier fashion without putting the complainant to notice,” the order said.

“In wake of the discussion made hereinabove, we modify the orders passed by the NCDRC and direct that the appellant P.C. Jain shall be entitled to receive compensation of Rs. 2 Lakhs only with interest @ 12% per annum from the respondent Dr. R.P. Singh with effect from the date of filing of the complaint till actual payment is made.”