31 October 2012
Bringing relief to doctors across the country, the national consumer commission has ruled that a doctor cannot be held responsible if, despite undergoing sterilisation, a couple decides to bear a child. Under such circumstances, the child ceases to be unwanted and so, compensation for maintenance and upbringing of such a child cannot be claimed.
In a recent order, Justice Ashok Bhan, president of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, ruled that, "Merely because a woman, despite having undergone a sterilisation operation, becomes pregnant and delivers a child, the operating surgeon or his employer cannot be held liable for compensation on account of unwanted pregnancy or unwanted child. Just because the tubectomy operation failed, a women is not entitled to claim compensation."
Blaming women for not being cautious, the commission said, "If a woman misses her menstrual cycle, the couple should visit the doctor and seek medical advice. If it is a case of unwanted pregnancy, it can be terminated and this is legal and permissible under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971."
The ruling comes in wake of a state commission ruling that had held a doctor from the Northern Railways Medical Department, liable for medical negligence and slapped a fine of Rs50,000 on him. While dismissing the ruling, the National Consumer Commission referred to a supreme court ruling, "The surgeon cannot be held liable in contract unless the plaintiff alleges and proves that the surgeon had assured 100% exclusion of pregnancy after the surgery and it was only on the basis of such assurance that the plaintiff was persuaded to undergo surgery. Ordinarily, a surgeon does not offer such guarantee."
Giving relief to the Northern Railways Medical Department, the commission ruled that, "Complainant has failed to prove any medical negligence on the part of the doctors or hospital in performing the sterilisation surgery."