NATIONAL CONSUMER DISPUTES REDRESSAL COMMISSION
(From the order dated 29.8.02 in Appeal No.551,559 & 560/99
of the State Commission Punjab)
New India Assurance Co. Ltd. Petitioner
1. Hardip Singh
2. Karamjit Singh
3. Smt. Balwinder Kaur
4. Walia Nursing Home, Patiala
5. Dr. R.P.S. Walia, M.S. (Surgery)
6. Dr. Ajay Goyal, M.D. (Anaestheticst)
7. National Insurance Co., Patiala
8. United India Insurance Co. Ltd., Patiala
9. United India Insurance Co.Ltd., through its
Divisional Office, Patiala. Respondents
(From the order dated 29.8.02 in Appeal No.836/99
of the State Commission Punjab)
New India Assurance Co. Ltd. Petitioner
1. Harpreet Sing, Minor son of Ajaib Singh
2. Sh. Ajaib Singh
3. Smt. Kuldip Kaur
4. Singla Bone and Joints Hospital
5. Dr. P.K. Singhla Respondents
HONBLE MR. JUSTICE D.P. WADHWA,
HONBLE MR. JUSTICE J.K. MEHRA, MEMBER
MRS. RAJYALAKSHMI RAO, MEMBER.
MR. B.K. TAIMNI, MEMBER.
Insurance - Insurance taken by medical practitioner - In a complaint medical practitioner held to be negligent - Duty of the Insurance Company to pay under the policy - Right of Insurance Company to challenge the finding of negligence against the medical practitioner deprecated.
For the petitioner in RP 2640/02 : Mr. Vishnu Mehra,
For the respondent in RP 2648/02 : Mr. Sanjiv Sharma,
O R D E R
DATED THE 20th December, 2002.
JUSTICE D.P. WADHWA, J.(PRESIDENT)
Both these petitions have been filed by the New India Assurance Company Ltd. through two different counsel. These are against the orders of the Punjab State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission upholding the orders of the District Forum wherein it was held that the medical doctors who were opposite parties in the complaint were negligent in the treatment of the patient. No relief as such was claimed in the complaints against the petitioner-Insurance Company and as far as complainants were concerned Insurance Company was proforma party to meet the liability arising out of the finding arrived at by the Consumer Forum that doctors who were covered by the insurance polices issued by the Insurance Company, were guilty of medical negligence. Complainants could not have perhaps proceeded against the Insurance Company otherwise.
The three complainants had filed complaint in the District Forum against seven opposite parties. In this case Dr. R.P.S. Walia is accused of medical negligence while performing the operation of gall bladder of Mohinder Kaur. Dr. Ajay Goel was the anaesthetist at the time of operation. Allegations were on account of negligence of the doctors both the surgeon and anaesthetist. Mohinder Kaur developed a ventricular techycardia followed by ventricular fabrillation. She suffered cardiac dysrhy-thmia, went into coma and did not regain consciousness. First complainant is the husband of Mohinder Kaur and second and third complainants are children. As noted above, complaining negligence which resulted in the condition of Mohinder Kaur, complaint was filed against the Nursing Home, the first opposite party (respondent No.4 herein), Dr. Walia, second opposite party (opposite party No.5 herein) and Dr. Geol, third opposite party (respondent No.6 herein). The Nursing Home was insured with the United India Insurance Company Ltd. (respondent No. 8&9 herein), Dr. Walia with National Insurance Company Ltd. (respondent No. 7 herein) and Dr. Geol both with United India Insurance Company Ltd. and New India Assurance Company Ltd. (respondent No. 8 & 9 herein and petitioner). Holding that it was a case of medical negligence on the part of the Nursing Home and the two doctors, the District Forum allowed the complaint and passed the following order:
For the foregoing reasons the complaint is allowed. Mohinder Kaur is aged about 45 years. She is bed ridden and lying in Semi-conscious condition. Considering the entire set of circumstances, the complainants are awarded compensation of Rs.2,00,000/- against the opposite parties. The liability of opposite parties shall be joint and several. The opposite party No.1 is insured with the opposite party No.5. The opposite party No.2 is insured with the opposite party No.4 and the opposite party No.3 is insured with opposite party No.6 & 7. The insurance companies shall be liable to indemnify the insured. The complainants shall also be entitled to interest of 12% p.a. from the date of filing of complaint i.e. 21.3.1997 till realisation and shall also be entitled to costs of Rs.1000/-.
Against the order of the District Forum three appeals were filed. Appeal No.551/99 by the United India Insurance Co., Ltd. Appeal No.559 by Dr. Walia jointly with National Insurance Co. Ltd. and Appeal No.560/99 by New India Assurance Co. Before the State Commission the only challenge by the Insurance Co. was that the impugned order of the District Forum did not spell out ratio of compensation payable in respect of each of the Insurance Companies. All the appeals were dismissed by the State Commission. Impugned order was passed in appeal No.551/99. Now it is the New India Assurance Co. Ltd. which felt aggrieved of the order of the State Commission and has filed this petition. There is no doubt that there was insurance cover given by the petitioner-Insurance Company and the Insurance Company was to indemnify the doctors on account of any negligence with clear finding of negligence by the District Forum and affirmed by the State Commission. It was incumbent on the Insurance Company to pay the amount under the policy and not to file this petition alleging that there is no medical negligence on the part of the doctors. It is not the case of the Insurance Company that doctor conceded to the judgment or there was any understanding between the complainants and the doctors. It is a matter of common knowledge that no medical doctor would have a finding of negligence returned against him and he fights the case to be best of his ability. Perhaps that was not enough for the Insurance Company to pay up the amount under the policy. We certainly do not appreciate the action of the Insurance Company in challenging the order of the State Commission.
It has been submitted by Mr.Vishnu Mehra, learned counsel for the petitioner that the State Commission did not pass speaking order and therefore it was no order in the eyes of law. It is wrong. If we see the order enough reasons have been given to sustain the order of the District Forum.
As noted above, the challenge before the State Commission was only the amount payable by the three Insurance companies which has been recorded in the impugned order of the State Commission. If we refer to the grounds of revision before us this observation of the State Commission has not at all been challenged and goes unrebutted. We find this petition has no merit. Rather it is an abuse of the process of the whole system and simply because Insurance Company has means to challenge each and every order without regard to the circumstances of the case and its obligation to pay the amount under the policy. It was neither necessary nor proper for the Insurance Company to take up the cause of the doctors to save its own liability which it was legally bound to meet.
Accordingly, this revision is dismissed.
REVISION PETITION NO.2648/2002;
In this case the first complaint, a minor,. on account of negligence of opposite party Nos. 1 and 2, had suffered amputation of his hand near joint of upper limb resulting his becoming permanently disabled. District Forum allowed the complaint which was filed by the minor as well as his parents and awarded compensation of Rs.2.00 lakhs against opposite party No. 1 and 2 (respondent Nos.4 and 5 respectively herein). Accordingly it was held that Insurance Company was liable to indemnify opposite party Nos. 1 and 2 in accordance with the contract of insurance contained in the insurance policy which was filed in the proceedings. Cost of Rs.1,000/- was also awarded to the complainants.
Strangely it was the Insurance Company-petitioner herein, who filed appeal against the order of the District Forum impleading both the doctors as respondents. Appeal was also filed by the complainants seeking enhancement of compensation. The appeals both of the Insurance Company and the complainants were dismissed. The order of the District Forum was affirmed which has returned a clear finding of negligence against the opposite party Nos.1 and 2.
Not satisfied with the order of the State Commission, the Insurance Company has filed this petition. We find that the Insurance Company without any rhyme and reason is challenging the order of the District Forum as affirmed by the State Commission. It was neither proper nor desirable for the Insurance Company to file this revision petition. This revision petition is therefore, dismissed.
Before concluding we must express our deep anguish the way these petitions have been filed by the Insurance Company. Such type of cases are not the fodder for the legal department of the Insurance Company and that cannot go on spree in filing such type of petitions. We have restrained ourselves from imposing heavy cost on the petitioner. Henceforth, if such petition is filed by any of the Insurance Companies we will certainly impose heavy cost. Agony of a consumer must end at some stage. It is the duty of the Insurance Company to see that frivolous cases are not filed so as to clog the wheels of justice. As noted above, it is neither expedient nor worthwhile to file such trivial cases. It is nothing but waste of time.
A copy of this order shall be sent to the Chairman-cum-Managing Directors of all the Insurance Companies.
(J.K. MEHRA )