Citation : LL 2021 SC 323
Background of the case;-
The complainant was a child aged 14 years at the time of the incident studying in class 9 in an educational institution in Bangalore. In December, 2006, she went on an educational tour with other students to several places in North India, accompanied by teachers of the school. She was taken ill during the tour by viral fever, diagnosed as Meningoencephalitis.
What is Meningoencephalitis?
Meningoencephalitis- Meningoencephalitis is a very serious neurological condition resembling both meningitis and encephalitis – inflammation of the the meninges (covering of the CNS) and inflammation of the brain tissues respectively.
Meningoencephalitis is usually a result of direct embolization to meningeal vessels, with subsequent parenchymal or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) invasion of the infecting organism.
The State Commission and the National Commission have arrived at concurrent findings of gross negligence by the respondents opining that the teachers accompanying the complainant and the
Other children were negligent in performance of their duty and Rs.88,73,798 was awarded to her by the State Commission.
However, the National Commission, while affirming the State Commission’s decision opined that a compensation of Rs.50 lakhs would suffice.
Now, an appeal against reduction of compensation by the National Consumer Redressal Commission has been filed before the Supreme Court.
Facts of the case:-
The complainant was a child aged 14 years at the time of the incident studying in class 9 in an educational institution in Bangalore. In December, 2006, she went on an educational tour with other students to several places in North India, accompanied by teachers of the school. She was taken ill during the tour by viral fever, diagnosed as Meningoencephalitis
The doctors had opined that had she been given timely medical aid and attention, she could easily have been cured. Ultimately she had to be airlifted in an air ambulance to Bangalore.
Consequently, the complainant became bed ridden inter alia affecting her memory and speech with no prospects for recovery, and stands deprived of a normal life and marriage prospects despite being of marriageable age.
A Division Bench comprising Justice Navin Sinha and Justice Subhash Reddy issued the direction upon hearing the counsel the Court granted the leave.
“The jurisdiction draws its source from the power of judicial discretion to be exercised in the given facts of a case. The power
to exercise judicial discretion is indeed wide but is inherently limited by the requirement of a judicious exercise of the discretionary jurisdiction. The order must reflect due application of mind to the facts of the case, followed by a brief discussion why the appellate authority was of the opinion that exercise of judicial discretion was called for including the discussion why it opined the compensation to be excessive requiring reduction. Judicial discretion is not arbitrary to be exercised sans reason to the prejudice of another. There is no discussion by the National Commission or any reasons spelt out for the formation of this opinion by it to reduce the compensation. The National Commission did not opine that the compensation awarded under any particular head was excessive, yet it simply opined to reduce the compensation. In absence of any such material, discussion or reasoning, the reduction of the compensation patently becomes arbitrary and therefore, unsustainable.”
“We do not find merit in the contention of the
respondents that in the execution proceedings, no objection has been raised by the appellant to the reduction of compensation as ordered by the National Commission.”
After finding out that this was a matter of gross negligence and the award was granted to the deceased is all good. But without giving any reason and while an appeal was filed against that order the National Commision
Noone on behalf of the National Commission objected to the order of the supreme court. Well I am happy that the compensation is given to the deceased. But on the basis what facts the alteration was needed in the compensation amount?
However, the National Commission, while affirming the State Commission’s decision, opined that ” a compensation of Rs.50 lakhs would suffice.” It Is hard for me to digest that reason. Because just by making alterations over that statement does not make sense. Afterall the victim is entitled to know why such reduction was needed to be done. Otherwise it just enlarges the course of providing justice which needs to be served. Actually we need to take a look at the function of these commissions and make sure that the people don’t have to approach higher authorities. And a proper satisfactory decision should be taken at the primary stage.such commission should decide such matters better and faster. And we should find a way so that such steps can be avoided. And people don’t always have to go to the Supreme Court.
Thank you for reading.