• Posted by CERC India
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Patients treated free are also consumers


Road accident victim Ramesh Chand Vyas succumbed to injuries four days after he was admitted to Government Bangar Hospital in Pali, Rajasthan.  His wife Pushpa filed a complaint against the hospital for medical negligence. She alleged that the patient’s injuries were treated in a casual manner.

The hospital’s ultrasound machine was not working. As a result no ultrasound tests or scans were done on her husband despite repeated requests. Neither was he referred to a better equipped hospital in time. The patient died because of rupture of the liver, internal bleeding and injury to the lungs.

The hospital contended that examination and symptoms had indicated that the patient had suffered only minor injuries. Moreover, he was not a consumer as he was being treated free at the hospital. The Rajasthan State Commission dismissed the complaint. Pushpa approached the National Commission.


The National Commission observed that free service was also a ‘service’ and the recipient a ‘consumer’. Also, it said the State Commission had not taken into consideration the protocol that had to be followed in the case of an accidental injury. It held the doctor and the hospital jointly liable. It directed them to pay the complainant Rs. 10 lakh as compensation and Rs. 10,000 towards costs.

Point of law

Patients treated free at a government hospital can file complaints in consumer courts against the hospital.

[Source: The order of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi dated 31 January 2018 on First Appeal no. 102 of 2008]

LIC told to stick to its ‘motto’

Settled in court 2

Anila Thaker had a policy with the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) and had been paying premium regularly for 18 years since 1994. She died of cancer in June 2012. During the last stage of her life, two month’s premium was not deducted from her salary as per the Salary Savings Scheme (SSS) by her employer.

As a result, when her husband Niranjankumar Thaker claimed insurance of Rs. 2 lakh, he was paid only Rs. 55,900 – the amount of premium paid over 18 years. LIC said her policy had lapsed due to non-payment of premium for two months.  Niranjankumar complained to the Consumer Forum, Sabarkantha District, Gujarat.

The Forum asked LIC why it had not issued a mandatory notice to the insured before closing the policy. If felt that LIC should have given a grace period to the insured who was suffering from a critical illness and had paid premium loyally for 18 years. Moreover, her employer had not informed her about the non-deduction of premium from her salary during the last two months of her life. The Forum advised LIC to take a liberal view and follow its motto as showcased by its advertisements: “Zindagi ke saath bhi, zindagi ke baad bhi”.


The Forum ordered the insurance company to pay up the policy amount of Rs. 2 lakh deducting Rs. 55,900. The company also had to pay Rs. 3,000 towards compensation for mental agony and Rs. 3,000 towards costs.

Point of law

An insurance company should take a liberal view and not penalize a loyal customer.

[Source: The order of the Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Sabarkantha district, Himmatnagar, dated 23 April 2018 on Complaint no. 126/2017]


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