April 26, 2024 In Uncategorized


A two Judge Bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Justice Sanjay Karol, Justice Aravind Kumar passed a judgement in Jyoti Devi v. Suket Hospital & Ors. Special Leave Petition (C) No.242 of 2016 wherein the Supreme Court held that Courts should keep facts in mind while determining the compensation.


Jyoti Devi (Claimant/Appellant) was admitted to Suket Hospital at Himachal Pradesh in 2005 for having an appendicitis removal surgery. Post-surgery, the Claimant was still suffering from pains and was admitted again in the hospital and later discharged and was given assurances that she will not suffer from any pain later.

The Claimant continued to suffer with pain and discomfort for the continuous 4 years and consulted various doctors for the same. The Claimant later was admitted to Post Graduate Institute of Medical Science, Chandigarh. Upon examination, it was found that a 2.5 cm foreign body (needle) was present below the anterior abdominal wall, just medial to previous abdominal scar for which another surgery had to be performed for its removal.

The Claimant filed a Complaint Case bearing no. No.262 of 2011 in District Forum, Mandi, Himachal Pradesh (DCDRC) alleging Medical Negligence on part of the Respondent Hospital seeking compensation amounting to Rs. 19,80,000/- for “huge pain and money spent on treatment”.

The Claimant was awarded with compensation amounting to Rs. 5 lakhs by the District Forum vide Order dated 18.12.2013. Challenging the said Order, the Respondents herein filed an Appeal bearing no. 70 of 2014 in State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Shimla (SCDRC). The said Appeal was partly allowed and thereby the compensation amount was reduced to Rs 1 lakh only.

Subsequently a Revision Petition bearing no. 27 of 2015 was filed in National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) by the Appellant which observed that the Hospital authorities proceeded in a casual nature and which constituted deficiency of services. “Eggshell Skull Rule” was applied by the National Commission which provides that injurer is liable to pay compensation for damages exceeding what would normally be expected. Thus, the compensation amount was enhanced to Rs. 2 lakhs.

Still aggrieved by the Order of NCDRC, the Appellant/Claimant approached
the Supreme Court for enhancement of the compensation.


I) Whether the SCDRC and NCDRC erred in evaluating the amount of compensation provided to the Appellant?

II) Whether the Rule of ‘Eggshell Skull’ was applicable in the case of the Appellant?

Decision by Supreme Court

The Apex Court took consideration of the question that whether SCDRC and NCDRC were justified in reducing the compensation as previously granted by the District Forum. The NCDRC applied the ‘Eggshell Skull Rule’ in determining the quantum of compensation, however, the Apex Court clarified that this rule should only be applied when certain conditions are met. These conditions are as follows-

i) where a latent condition of the plaintiff is unearthed,

ii) where the wrongdoer’s actions reactivate a plaintiff’s pre-existing condition,

iii) where known pre-existing conditions are aggravated

iv) where the wrongdoer’s actions accelerate an inevitable disability or loss of life.

The Apex Court provided that the judgement by the NCDRC was silent as to how the Eggshell Skull Rule was applicable in the present case as the impugned Order did not explain any pre-existing condition of the Appellant.

The Supreme Court relied on the idea that compensation is based on ‘restitutio in integrum’, which means, make good the loss suffered, so far as money is able to do so, or, in other words, take the receiver of such compensation, back to a position, as if the loss/injury suffered by them hadn’t occurred.

Thus, the Apex Court held that “We find the manner in which compensation stood reduced by the State Commission as also the NCDRC, vis-à-vis the District Forum to be based on questionable reasoning … The State Commission … found it appropriate to reduce the compensation to a mere Rs.1 lakh. This clearly is not in line with the balance of interests required to be borne in mind while determining compensation.”

Moreover, there was no doubt in the finding that there was negligence by the Hospital and there was no proof concluded by either of the Forums that the Appellant had any pre-existing medical condition that could explain the pain and damage caused by 2005 surgery.

The Hon’ble Court held the Respondent Hospital liable for medical negligence and providing deficient services and thus the Appellant was granted compensation of Rs. 5 lakhs with simple interest @ 9% from the date of the award passed by the District Forum till it is paid. Additionally, a cost of Rs.50,000/- was also allowed for cost of litigation.


The Hon’ble Apex Court set aside the Awards passed by the SCDRC and NCDRC and thus restored the Award passed by the District Commission.  The Supreme Court covered the delicate intricacies that require attention while determining the quantum of compensation keeping in mind the loss and agony suffered by the Complainant. Thus, when determining compensation, it’s important to strike a balance between the demands of the claimant and the interests of those who are responsible for the payment.




The Indian Lawyer & Allied Services


Editor’s Comments

Hospitals and Doctors have become increasingly casual in their approach towards the patient and have started treating the entire treatment process as a money-making game. The fact that it very difficult to prove medical negligence has emboldened these medical professionals who continue with their casual and unethical approach in treating patients. In a case, such as the above, where there was a glaring negligence on behalf of the Hospital and its doctors, the Courts did not appreciate the pain that the patient must have undergone for 5 years. What is alarming is that despite the evidence of medical negligence, the Courts below did not understand the gravity of the matter and gave her a very paltry compensation.  Even though the Supreme Court restored the compensation amount to Rs. 5 lakhs, it is doubtful whether this amount can be deemed to be adequate compensation.


Sushila Ram Varma

Chief Consultant

The Indian Lawyer & Allied Services


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