Patients treated for free also consumers, can file case against hospitals for negligence: NCDRC

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New Delhi | February 03, 2018 12:00 PM

The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC), which is country's apex consumer forum has said that patients who are treated for free at government hospitals also fall under the definition of 'consumers' and can file a case in consumer forums against hospitals for negligence.

NCDRC, NCDRC on patients, NCDRC on consumers, patients treated for free also consumers. india news(Repesentational Image, Source: PTI)

The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC), which is country’s apex consumer forum has said that patients who are treated for free at government hospitals also fall under the definition of ‘consumers’ and can file a case in consumer forums against hospitals for negligence. The NCDRC also held the district medical officer and in-charge of Government Bangar Hospital in Rajasthan’s Pali district guilty of negligence which resulted in the death of a road accident victim in 2001. The hospital has been ordered to pay Rs 10 lakh penalty by a bench comprising president Justice D K Jain and member M Shreesha on Tuesday.

Ramesh Chand Vyas, a former commissioner of Pali municipal council had succumbed to injuries four days after he was admitted to the hospital in June 2001. However, the counsel of respondents had argued that the complaint does not fall within the definition of a consumer under the Consumer Protection Act as the patient was in a government hospital and he was treated free of cost. However, the NCDRC bench referred to a 1995 judgment by the Supreme Court which observed that “free service would also be ‘service’ and the recipient a ‘consumer’ under the Act”, reported TOI.

About NCDRC

The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC), India is a quasi-judicial commission in India which was set up in 1988 under the Consumer Protection Act of 1986. Its head office is in New Delhi. The commission is headed by a sitting or retired judge of the Supreme Court of India. The commission is presently headed by Justice D K Jain, former judge of the Supreme Court of India.

According to the section 21 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, the National Consumer shall have jurisdiction to entertain a complaint valued more than one crore and also have Appellate and Revisional jurisdiction from the orders of State Commissions or the District fora as the case may be.

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