Supreme Court held Hospital deficient in services for giving dead body to the wrong person

Supreme Court held Hospital deficient in services for giving dead body to the wrong person

Supreme Court remarks “The habit of passing the operative part and reasoned order after a time gap of eight months deserve to be deprecated” 

  1. The Ernakulum Medical Centre Hospital in Kerala released the dead body of the Petitioners’ father, Purushothaman, to the family of one Kanthy ,Kanthy’s family cremated Purushothaman’s body, thus depriving the Petitioners’ from seeing their father for one last time.
  2. Facts in brief as stated in the complaint are that  Purushothaman  father of both the complainants died on 30.12.2009 evening during treatment in M/s. Ernakulam Medical Centre Hospital, Ernakulam . His dead body was kept in the refrigerated box in the mortuary of the hospital.Dead body of one  Lt. Col. A.P. Kanthi about 88 years was also kept in the mortuary in the refrigerated box. On the   01.01.2010, Mr. Jayasankar, the grandson of the patient, late Mr. R. Purushothaman along with his father Justice P.S. Gopinathan approached the hospital in early morning for release of dead body of R. Purushothaman. It came as a surprise to them that the dead body was not of late R. Purushothaman, but it was of Lt. Col. A.P. Kanthi.  Immediately, after knowing the fact, it came to light that   Mr. V. K. Pramesh, the public relations officers (PRO) of the Medical center has already released one body to the immediate relatives of Lt. Col. A.P. Kanthi  and it was cremated with the religious rites. The relatives of late Lt. Col. A.P. Kanthi were contacted who admitted their mistake and sought  apology to Justice P.S. Gopinathan and thereafter handed over to them the ashes of late Mr. R. Purushothaman. The dead body of Lt. Col. A.P. Kanthi was released to their concerned relatives. It was alleged that wrongly releasing the dead body of the father of the complainants deprived their right to decent cremation / burial  of their deceased  father. It caused severe mental agony also.  Being aggrevied by  the deficiency in service on the part of the hospital, the two younger daughters of deceased R. Purushothaman filed a complaint no.22/2011   before the Kerala State Commission and claimed compensation from O.P.s for Rs. 1 crore with 18 % interest from the date of filing of the complaint.
  3. .State commission vide its order dated 05.10.2016 allowed the complaint 21/2011 and awarded Rs. 25 Lakhs with 12 % interest from the date of complaint till realization together with cost of Rs. 10,000/-.
  4. An appeal was   filed by M/s. Ernakulam Medical Centre and its director before the national commission challenging  the quantum of compensation granted by the Kerala State Commission for the alleged negligence and deficiency in service
  5. Case was defended by the medical center and the reasoning given by the hospital is that  Purushothaman was cremated properly by Kanthy’s relatives and his ashes were received by the Petitioners for further religious rites.
  6. NCDRC in their order though agreed with the observations made by the State Commission that it was deficiency on the part of Hospital but saying so ,reduced the compensation to Rs. 5 lakhs and directed to the hospital to pay Rs. 25 lakhs as costs to the Consumer Legal Aid account of the State Commission.
7.      After hearing the arguments on 04.07.2019, the operative portion kept  pending for and final order was pronounced on 12 Mar 2020             
  • Supreme Court believed that fundamental rights of Purushothaman were infringed as they could not perform the last rites of their father in accordance with the Hindu customs.Apex Court was not convinced with the order of National Commission reducing the amount of compensation and the same directed to be deposited with welfare fund. Supreme court  stayed the NCDRC order  and issued notice to the parties

Ref.  Dr. P.R. Jayasree & Anr. Versus M/S Ernakulam Medical Centre & Anr

 Record of proceedings SLP (CIVIL)

 (Arising out of final judgment dated 12.3.2020  in FA No. 273/2017 04-07-2019 by National Commission)

Bench : Hon’ble Mr. Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman, Hon’ble Mr. Justice Navin Sinha

Diary No(s). 23610/2020 (SC)

Date : 14-12-2020


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