Medical negligence is defined in India as the breach of a medical professional’s or healthcare provider’s duty of care that results in pain, harm, or even patient death. The country has adopted medical negligence legislation to ensure that patients receive competent treatment and have the right to compensation for any harm caused by healthcare workers.

In India, civil claims for damages are routinely filed in the appropriate court in situations of medical malpractice. If a patient dies as a consequence of a healthcare professional’s carelessness, there are several circumstances in which criminal charges may also be filed against the individual.

Land Mark Judgment:

Union of India Vs NK Srivasta & others SC 2020

Facts of the case:-

On March 9, 2004, at around 5 am, the complainant’s pregnant wife was quickly admitted to Sarvodaya Hospital. Around 8 am, she gave birth to a preterm baby who needed care in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). When the complainant later learned that the hospital had not, in fact, promised to have a fully functional NICU before the delivery, he felt duped and filed a complaint against Sarvodaya Hospital.

Following that, the complainant and his wife brought their child to Safdarjung Hospital on March 9, 2004, between 12 and 1 pm. The child died in late April 2004. The born baby was first taken to a general ward at Safdarjung Hospital before being transferred to a general intensive care unit (ICU), which was the complainant’s complaint. In order to obtain compensation from both Sarvodaya Hospital and Safdarjung Hospital, a complaint was submitted to the District Forum.

Consumer Forum’s Findings:

The District Forum dismissed the consumer complaint because it determined Sarvodaya institution not responsible for distorting the truth and established that the institution has an ICU and nursery. The District Forum found that Sarvodaya Hospital did not fail in its obligation to refer the complainant to a specialised hospital because the patient was admitted during an emergency, had essential surgery and saved both the mother and child’s lives. Referring to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Indian Medical Association vs. V. Shantha, the case against Safdarjung Hospital was deemed unmaintainable because the plaintiff received free care.

Supreme Court’s Findings:

During a revision filed by Sarvodaya Hospital, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) overturned the maintainability judgement in Safdarjung Hospital’s favour. The NCDRC wanted “complete justice,” but the Supreme Court emphasized that this was outside of its purview, which was granted to it precisely under Article 142. In a suitable instance, it will be necessary to decide whether the NCDRC is permitted to use the authority generally reserved for appellate courts under Order XLI Rule 33 of the Code of Civil Procedure 1908.

The NCDRC’s jurisdiction was not questioned by Safdarjung Hospital when the Supreme Court considered the Special Leave Petition’s grounds of appeal. To evaluate compliance with the standards specified in the Indian Medical Association case, no factual information was offered. As a result, the appeal was rejected since it was not properly challenged before the District Forum, the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (SCDRC), the NCDRC, or even the Supreme Court. However, the initial complainant must receive the Rs 2 lakhs settlement, as instructed by the NCDRC, within two months after receiving a certified copy of the Supreme Court’s ruling. The Supreme Court upheld the NCDRC’s decision under its revisional jurisdiction, but it left the question about the judgment being “complete justice” for future consideration in an appropriate case.


India has a serious problem with medical carelessness, which has the ability to injure patients, result in fatalities, and cause their families great emotional suffering. The Indian Penal Code, the Consumer Protection Act, and other decisions rendered by the Supreme Court and High Courts all serve as the foundation for the legal framework governing medical negligence in India. Medical personnel have a duty to give their patients the best treatment possible and protect them from harm caused by carelessness under both the law and professional ethics. In contrast, patients have a right to compensation for any losses caused by medical error. The Indian Penal Code’s Section 304A states: Negligence that results in death, the medical worker who causes a patient’s death via carelessness may be sentenced to up to two years in jail, a fine, or both.

Bhavesh Jangra – Legal associate

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