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Monday, November 10, 2008

Court: abortion without husband’s knowledge is ground for divorce

New Delhi: Abortion by a woman without her husband’s knowledge and consent will amount to mental cruelty and a ground for divorce, the Supreme Court has held.

“Mental cruelty is a state of mind. The feeling of deep anguish, disappointment, frustration in one spouse caused by the conduct of the other for a long time may lead to mental cruelty. A sustained course of abusive and humiliating treatment calculated to torture, discommode or render life miserable for the spouse,” said a Bench consisting of Justices C.K. Thakker and D.K. Jain.

Writing the judgment, Justice Thakker said: “The treatment complained of and the resultant danger or apprehension must be very grave, substantial and weighty. Sustained reprehensible conduct, studied neglect, indifference or total departure from the normal standard of conjugal kindness, causing injury to mental health or deriving sadistic pleasure, can also amount to mental cruelty.”

The conduct must be much more than jealousy, selfishness, possessiveness, which caused unhappiness and dissatisfaction and emotional upset but might not be a reason for grant of divorce on the ground of mental cruelty.

Absence of intention
The Bench said: “To establish legal cruelty, it is not necessary that physical violence should be used. Continuous cessation of marital intercourse or total indifference on the part of the husband towards marital obligations would lead to legal cruelty. In such cases, the cruelty will be established if the conduct itself is proved or admitted. The absence of intention should not make any difference in the case, if by ordinary sense in human affairs the act complained of could otherwise be regarded as cruelty. Mens rea is not a necessary element in cruelty. The relief to the party cannot be denied on the ground that there has been no deliberate or wilful ill treatment.”

The court said: “Mere coldness or lack of affection cannot amount to cruelty; frequent rudeness of language, petulance of manner, indifference and neglect may reach such a degree that it makes the married life for the other spouse absolutely intolerable.”

In the instant case, Suman Kapur was aggrieved at the decree of divorce granted against her by a trial court and confirmed by the Delhi High Court. Both courts gave a finding that her three abortions without the knowledge and consent of her husband, Sudhir Kapur, was a valid ground for divorce. Disposing of the appeal, the Bench noted that Sudhir Kapur got remarried on March 5, 2007 before the expiry of the period of 90 days for filing appeal before this court and a child was born from the second marriage.

“Since, we are confirming the decree of divorce on the ground of mental cruelty as held by both courts, i.e. the trial court as well as the High Court, no relief can be granted so far as the reversal of decree of the courts below is concerned. At the same time, however, in our opinion, the respondent-husband should not have remarried before the expiry of period stipulated for filing appeal. Ends of justice would be met if we direct the respondent to pay Rs. 5 lakh to the appellant.”

Friday, June 27, 2008

Educational Institutions Cannot Hold Back Certificates : Madras High Court

Educational institutions cannot hold back certificates: court

Mohamed Imranullah S.
Says they cannot be retained for non-remittance of fees

MADURAI: Educational institutions cannot hold back mark sheets, convocation certificates, course completion certificates or transfer certificates of students for non-payment of fees, the Madras High Court has ruled.

Disposing of a writ petition filed before the Madurai Bench, Justice K. Suguna said the academic certificates could not be termed ‘goods’ to enable the educational institutions to withhold them.

She pointed out that the Supreme Court, in R.D. Saxena vs. Balram Prasad Sharma (2000) case, had taken a view that a lien (right to possess property of another person until a debt owned by the latter is discharged) could be exercised only on marketable goods.

The Judge agreed with the arguments advanced by advocate G.R. Swaminathan that academic certificates were not saleable commodities, and hence could not be retained for non-remittance of fees. Counsel had voluntarily assisted the court though he was not representing any of the parties.

The petitioner, R. Pushpa Latha of Kanyakumari, said a private college of teacher education refused to issue academic certificates to her even after completing the Bachelor of Education course.

She alleged that the college demanded more money despite receiving the entire course fee without issuing any receipt during admission.

On the contrary, the college claimed that the petitioner had not paid the fees and owed Rs.35,000. Contesting the claim, petitioner’s counsel A. Dennison said her client would not have been permitted to appear for the examination without paying the fees.

No documents

Pointing out that there were no documents available on both sides to prove their contesting claims, Ms. Justice Suguna said: “I do not like to express any opinion with regard to the payment of fees or non-payment of fees. It is open to the institution to take appropriate steps against the petitioner, if she had not paid the fees, in the manner known to law.”

Ms. Justice Suguna also said that a writ could be issued against private institutions performing a public duty, though they do not fall under the definition of ‘State’ under Article 12 of the Constitution.

She pointed out that the proposition was laid down by a Full Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 1998.

The Full Bench had said: “Powers of the High Courts (to issue writs) under Article 226 of the Constitution are wider than those of the Court of King’s Bench in England…The words “any person or authority” used in Article 226 do not mean only State or statutory authorities. These cover any person or body performing a public duty.”

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Court directive to Directorate of Medical Education, KMC

Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has directed the Directorate of Medical Education and the Kilpauk Medical College (KMC) to make photostat copies of original certificates, attest their authenticity and hand them over to petitioner-doctors to enable them to apply for super-speciality courses.

For obtaining the photostat copies, the petitioners have to submit a formal letter/application indicating the course and the institution they are going to join for pursuing the super-speciality courses, Justice M. Sathyanarayanan said in his interim order on a batch of writ petitions.

The court said the petitioners applying for super-specialty courses should file an affidavit of undertaking before the court stating that the photostat copies of the certificates were required only for for the super-speciality courses.

A writ petitioner, K.K. Ravishankar of Madurai, sought the quashing of a government order of June last year by which the Directorate of Medical Education had proposed to fill the vacancies of Assistant Surgeons in government hospitals and medical colleges from among non-service post-graduate candidates who had joined the post-graduate courses in 2005. The petitioner said he completed his MD (paediatrics) course at the KMC. For applying for super-speciality course he applied to the college seeking the return of his original documents. But the impugned government order based upon the bond prevented the institution from handing over all the original certificates.

Friday, May 09, 2008

`Creamy layer': court notice to Tamil Nadu

``Only State yet to identify it''

  • Tamil Nadu has not followed the directions contained in a Supreme Court judgment
  • Benefits of reservation not passed on to really deserving persons

    NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the Tamil Nadu Government on a public interest litigation petition that sought a direction to implement the Court's directions in the 1992 Mandal judgment, viz. to identify and exclude the "creamy layer" from among the backward class communities in the State.

    A Bench of Justices A.K. Mathur and Altamas Kabir issued the notice after hearing senior counsel K.M. Vijayan. He submitted that Tamil Nadu was the only State, which was yet to identify the "creamy layer" as per the Mandal judgment.

    Binding on Government

    In its petition, Voice (Consumer Care) Council said that as per the Mandal judgment, the Centre, States and Union Territories were directed to constitute a permanent body to entertain, examine and recommend for inclusion and complaints of over/under inclusion in the lists of the other backward classes.

    The advice tendered by such body would be binding on the government.

    The petitioner said Tamil Nadu had not followed the directions contained in the judgment, though many years had passed. The benefits of reservation to the backward classes had been continued to them in education and in appointments to State services, without excluding the "creamy layer" and such benefits of reservation had not been passed on to the really deserved persons belonging to such backward classes.

    The petitioner contended that Tamil Nadu, by not identifying the creamy layer for more than a decade, had literally affected the reservation of the needy lower strata of society.

    "Great injustice"

    The State had done great injustice to the really backward class citizens, as all the affluent classes in such backward class communities were taking away the reservation benefits.

    The petitioner said that if reservation were provided without removing the "creamy layer" it would have a counter effect on the very basis of the Constitutional right.

    The petitioner said that it must be noted that in Tamil Nadu majority of the castes had been included in the backward classes list.

    As a result, the backward classes got a major portion of the seats in professional colleges, as well as in employment.

    It sought a direction to Tamil Nadu to identify and exclude the "creamy layer" and consequently exclude them from the benefit of reservation.

  • Thursday, April 10, 2008

    WP No 4016 & 4147/2008 Chennai High Court

    WP No 4016 & 4147/2008
    MP. Nos.1,1,2,3,5,6/2008

    The Order reads as below

    1. This court heard the learned counsel on either side and also perused the material records place

    2. All 213 candidates who relies on GO.Ms.No.95 daated 05.02.2008 are selected by TNPSC only on 29.06.2006, though they worked on contract basis from 2004 onwards.

    It is seen from previous GO.Ms.No 197 dated 07.06.2004 and GO.Ms.No 31 dated 03.03.2005 and also in the agreement dated 20.11.2006 entered into them with the government that it is categorically found mentioned that the said persons are not eligible to apply for PG course as service candidates. Hence, the said 213 persons cannot be treated as service candidates. Based on this order, seat can be filled up and posting be made.

    These writ petitions are disposed of accordingly.
    No Costs.

    Consequently the connected MPs are closed 

    SC gives nod to 27 per cent quota for OBCs

    In a major boost to reservation, the Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the Constitution amendment law providing for 27 per cent quota for Other Backward Classes in IITs, IIMs and other Central educational institutions, but excluded the creamy layer from the benefit.

    A five-judge Constitution bench cleared the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act, 2006 providing for the quota, by a unanimous verdict.

    The bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan excluded the creamy layer among the OBCs from the quota benefit.

    The court held that the Act does not violate the basic structure of the Constitution.

    The verdict came on a bunch of petitions by anti-quota activists challenging the Act. They vehemently opposed government's move saying caste cannot be the starting point for identifying backward classes.

    The inclusion of creamy layer in the reservation policy was also questioned by the anti-quota petitioners.

    With this judgment, the interim order of March 29, 2007 staying the implementation of the Act has been lifted.

    In effect, the reservation policy can be put in place for the 2008-09 academic session.

    The court held that the Constitution (93rd Amendment) Act, under which the government came out with the law providing 27 per cent quota in Centrally-aided institutions, was not violative of the basic structure of the Constitution.

    All judges favoured periodic revision on the implementation of the 27 per cent quota.

    The court ruled that the delegation of power to the Centre to determine OBCs was valid.

    The parameter applied for identifying the creamy layer among the OBCs for jobs as per the office memorandum of September 8, 1993, will be applicable, the court said.

    It also held as valid the exclusion of minority institutions from the ambit of quota under the Act.

    Besides the Chief Justice, the bench comprised Justices Arijit Pasayat, C K Thakker, R V Raveendran and Dalveer Bhandari.

    Monday, March 17, 2008

    Contract Staff need not be regularised and cannot claim regularisation

    CASE NO.:
    Appeal (civil) 6337 of 2003

    National Fertilizers Ltd. & Ors.

    Somvir Singh

    DATE OF JUDGMENT: 12/05/2006

    S.B. Sinha & P.P. Naolekar

    J U D G M E N T

    W I T H
    CIVIL APPEAL NOS. 464, 465, 466, 467 of 2004 AND 7575 of 2005

    S.B. SINHA, J :

    The Appellant is a Government Company. It is a public sector
    undertaking. It is a 'State' within the meaning of Article 12 of the
    Constitution of India. A policy decision was taken by the Appellant not
    to make any further recruitment in Marketing Division in any category of
    post stating:

    "It has been decided that with immediate effect the
    strength of the Marketing Division be pagged to the
    number of individuals in position in the Marketing
    Division as on 31.03.1998. It has also been decided
    that no further recruitment be made in the Marketing
    Division in any category of post. However, as and
    when if any post is required to be filled up in any
    category due to exigencies of work, the approval of
    D(F)/MD be obtained and the paper routed through
    the Corporate Office Personnel Department."

    Despite such ban the Respondents had been appointed. Before
    such appointment the employment exchange was not intimated about the
    vacancy in terms of the provisions of Employment Exchange
    (Compulsory Notification of Vacancies) Act, 1959 (for short "the 1959
    Act"). Admittedly, no advertisement was also issued. According to the
    Respondent, he worked at the Shimla Office of the Appellant for a period
    of six months and, thus, he was entitled for recruitment in terms of Rule
    1.5(g) of the Recruitment and Promotion Rules. Rule 1.5(g) of the Rules
    does not envisage regular recruitment but a recruitment on a contractual
    basis. The Respondent, thus, on his own showing was appointed on a
    contractual basis. It is trite that a person who obtained recruitment on
    contractual basis cannot claim regularisation in service. The
    Respondents herein filed applications for their recruitment without any
    vacancy having been notified. They were said to have been interviewed
    on 24.3.1991 by a purported Committee constituted by the General
    Manager. Appointment letters were issued on or about 9.4.1991. An
    advertisement was admittedly issued only on 30.11.1993 for the post of

    The Appellant in the year 1994, however, took a decision to fill up
    the posts in the Marketing Division inter alia stating:

    "During the coordination committee meeting held in
    October 1994, at C.O. the recognized union of
    marketing division requested for removal of ban in
    filling up vacant posts in marketing division. It was
    agreed that action to fill up the vacant posts in
    marketing division will be taken by marketing
    division, keeping in view the recruitments within the
    overall manpower strength."

    Actions were initiated to fill up the vacant posts on permanent
    status by following the recruitment procedure. The Respondents were
    also granted an opportunity to file applications thereagainst. Relaxation
    of age to the extent of their services as temporary employees had also
    been granted.

    The Appellant has framed its own Recruitment and Promotion
    Rules. The recruitment of an employee is governed by the said Rules.
    The terms and conditions of services are also governed by the same
    Rules. In terms of Rule 1.5 of the said Rules, recruitment of various
    posts were to be made inter alia from the following sources:

    (a) Employment Exchange as per the provisions of the 1959 Act.
    (b) Zila Saink Boards Director General Resettlement.
    (c) Direct Recruitment by advertisement.

    Rule 1.6.1 provides for method and procedure for recruitment in
    terms whereof all posts in the scale of pay of Rs. 1560-2160 is required to
    be considered as 'corporate level'. Direct recruitment can be resorted to
    only when no suitable candidate for promotion was available in the
    appropriate rank. Rule 1.6.8 provides for the mode and manner in which
    the advertisement is to be issued. Rule 1.6.9 provides for reservation.
    The manner in which Selection Committee has to be constituted has been
    laid down in paragraph 1.11. Such Selection Committee inter alia must
    consist of two members from the discipline for which recruitment is to be
    made apart from an officer from the Personnel Department as Member
    Secretary. In the event, a selection is to be made for reserved category,
    an officer of appropriate status belonging to SC/ST will be included as a
    member. In a case of recruitment to Group C & D posts, a member
    representing minority community will also be associated in the selection
    committee. The matter relating to interview is provided for in paragraph
    12.1. Appointments are to be made in terms of paragraph 1.13.

    The said Rules, therefore, lay down in great details as to how and
    in what manner the selection process was to be initiated, the minimum
    qualification therefor, the constitution of Selection Committee and other
    relevant factors.

    It is not in dispute that the Respondents herein were appointed
    without any advertisements and without any intimation to the
    employment exchange. Appointments are said to be made at the instance
    of two officers. Only after retirement of the said officers, writ petitions
    were filed before several High Courts including Chhattisgarh, Punjab and
    Haryana, Himachala Pradesh, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

    The writ petitions involved 52 employees. Different views were
    expressed by different High Courts.

    The writ petitions filed by the Respondents were allowed directing
    the Appellant to regularise the services of the Respondents to pay them
    all monetary benefits in terms of the appointment letters.

    Mr. Bhaskar P. Gupta, learned senior counsel appearing on behalf
    of the Appellant submitted that the matter relating to regularisation of
    services recruited on ad hoc basis is no longer res integra in view of the
    recent Constitution Bench decision of this Court in Secretary, State of
    Karnataka and Others v. Umadevi and Others [2006 (4) SCALE 197].

    Mr. Ashok Mathur, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the
    Respondents, on the other hand, submitted that the appointments of the
    Respondents may be irregular but not illegal and in that view of the
    matter, the impugned judgments need not be interfered with.
    The Respondents herein were appointed only on applications made
    by them. Admittedly, no advertisement was issued in a newspaper nor
    the employment exchange was notified as regard existence of vacancies.
    It is now trite law that a 'State' within the meaning of Article 12 of the
    Constitution of India is bound to comply with the constitutional
    requirements as adumbrated in Articles 14 and 16 thereof. When
    Recruitment Rules are made, the employer would be bound to comply
    with the same. Any appointment in violation of such Rules would render
    them as nullities. It is also well-settled that no recruitment should be
    permitted to be made through backdoor.

    It was contended that for Class IV employees, the Employment
    Exchanges were not required to be notified in view of Section 3(1)(d) of
    the 1959 Act. Section 3(1)(d) of the 1959 Act reads as under:

    "3. Act not to apply in relation to certain vacancies
     (1) This Act shall not apply in relation to
    (a) ***
    (b) ***
    (c) ***
    (d) in any employment to do unskilled office

    Such a plea does not appear to have been raised before the High
    Court. The question as regards the nature of duties required to be
    performed by the Respondents having not been raised. No material was
    placed by the employer to show as to whether the job of the Respondents
    was within the purview of the aforementioned provision. The
    Respondents themselves stated that they raised the question of
    applicability of the said provision of the Act in a suit filed at Jagadhri
    when another person was appointed as Peon-cum-Messenger. It,
    therefore, cannot be said that they were not aware of the statutory
    provisions contained in the said suit.

    The order of ban suggests that if any appointment was to be made
    due to exigencies of work, the approval of the Director (Finance) or
    Managing Director was to be obtained and the paper routed in respect
    thereof should be through the corporate office. The Respondents contend
    that as at the point of time the Managing Director, Shri S.S. Jain had been
    placed under suspension, the file was placed before the General Manager
    (Marketing). The said plea cannot be accepted for more than one reason.
    If the regular incumbent or the Managing Director was placed under
    suspension, somebody else must be incharge of the said post.
    Furthermore, the file could be placed before the Director (Finance). The
    General Manager by no stretch of imagination could accord approval for

    Submission of the learned counsel appearing on behalf of the
    Respondents to the effect that the ban was only on paper is not a matter
    which would fall for consideration of this Court inasmuch as it is not in
    dispute that the ban was lifted only on 16.12.1994. On what premise, an
    advertisement was issued on 30.11.1993 is not known. It is not the case
    of the Respondent that despite existence of ban some other workman was
    appointed prior to the lifting thereof. Even if, recruitments have been
    made illegally, the Respondents cannot claim any legal right on the basis

    Regularisation, furthermore, is not a mode of appointment. If
    appointment is made without following the Rules, the same being a
    nullity the question of confirmation of an employee upon the expiry of
    the purported period of probation would not arise. The Constitution
    Bench in Umadevi (supra) made a detailed survey of the case laws
    operating in the field.

    The referral order to the Constitution Bench was made by a 3-
    Judge Bench of this Court stating:

    "1. Apart from the conflicting opinions between
    the three Judges' Bench decisions in Ashwani Kumar
    and Ors. Vs. State of Bihar and Ors., reported in
    1997 (2) SCC 1, State of Haryana and Ors vs., Piara
    Singh and Ors. Reported in 1992 (4) SCC 118 and
    Dharwad Distt. P.W.D. Literate
    Daily Wage Employees Association and Ors. Vs.
    State of Karnataka and Ors. Reported in 1990 (2)
    SCC 396, on the one hand and State of Himachal
    Pradesh vs. Suresh Kumar Verma and Anr., reported
    in AIR 1996 SC 1565, State of Punjab vs.
    Surinder Kumar and Ors. Reported in AIR 1992 SC
    1593, and B.N. Nagarajan and Ors. Vs. State of
    Karnataka and Ors., reported in 1979 (4) SCC 507
    on the other, which has been brought out in one of
    the judgments under appeal of Karnataka High Court
    in State of Karnataka vs. H. Ganesh Rao, decided on
    1.6.2000, reported in 2001 (4) Karnataka Law
    Journal 466, learned Additional Solicitor General
    urged that the scheme for regularization is repugnant
    to Articles 16(4), 309, 320 and 335 of the
    Constitution of India and, therefore, these cases are
    required to be heard by a Bench of Five learned
    Judges (Constitution Bench).

    2. On the other hand, Mr. M.C. Bhandare,
    learned senior counsel, appearing for the employees
    urged that such a scheme for regularization is
    consistent with the provision of Articles 14 and 21 of
    the Constitution.

    3. Mr. V. Lakshmi Narayan, learned counsel,
    appearing in CC Nos.109-498 of 2003, has filed the
    G.O. dated 19.7.2002 and submitted that orders have
    already been implemented.

    4. After having found that there is conflict of
    opinion between three Judges Bench decisions of
    this Court, we are of the view that these cases are
    required to be heard by a Bench of five learned
    5. Let these matters be placed before Hon'ble the
    Chief Justice for appropriate orders."

    The Constitution Bench opined that any appointment made in
    violation of the Recruitment Rules as also in violation of Articles 14 and
    16 of the Constitution would be nullity. The contention raised on behalf
    of the employees that those temporary or ad hoc employees who had
    continued for a fairly long spell, the authorities must consider their cases
    for regularisation was answered, thus:

    "With respect, why should the State be allowed to
    depart from the normal rule and indulge in
    temporary employment in permanent posts? This
    Court, in our view, is bound to insist on the State
    making regular and proper recruitments and is bound
    not to encourage or shut its eyes to the persistent
    transgression of the rules of regular recruitment.
    The direction to make permanent -- the distinction
    between regularization and making permanent, was
    not emphasized here -- can only encourage the
    State, the model employer, to flout its own rules and
    would confer undue benefits on a few at the cost of
    many waiting to compete. With respect, the
    direction made in paragraph 50 of Piara Singh
    (supra) are to some extent inconsistent with the
    conclusion in paragraph 45 therein. With great
    respect, it appears to us that the last of the directions
    clearly runs counter to the constitutional scheme of
    employment recognized in the earlier part of the
    decision. Really, it cannot be said that this decision
    has laid down the law that all ad hoc, temporary or
    casual employees engaged without following the
    regular recruitment procedure should be made

    It was furthermore opined:

    "26. It is not necessary to notice all the decisions of
    this Court on this aspect. By and large what emerges
    is that regular recruitment should be insisted upon,
    only in a contingency an ad hoc appointment can be
    made in a permanent vacancy, but the same should
    soon be followed by a regular
    recruitment and that appointments to non-available
    posts should not be taken note of for regularization.
    The cases directing regularization have mainly
    proceeded on the basis that having permitted the
    employee to work for some period, he should be
    absorbed, without really laying down any law to that
    effect, after discussing the constitutional scheme for
    public employment."

    Taking note of some recent decisions of this Court, it was held that
    the State does not enjoy a power to make appointments in terms of
    Article 162 of the Constitution of India. It further quoted with approval a
    decision of this Court in Union Public Service Commission v. Girish
    Jayanti Lal Vaghela & Others [2006 (2) SCALE 115] in the following

    "The appointment to any post under the State can
    only be made after a proper advertisement has been
    made inviting applications from eligible candidates
    and holding of selection by a body of experts or a
    specially constituted committee whose members are
    fair and impartial through a written examination or
    interview or some other rational criteria for judging
    the inter se merit of candidates who have applied in
    response to the advertisement made. A regular
    appointment to a post under the State or Union
    cannot be made without issuing advertisement in the
    prescribed manner which may in some cases include
    inviting applications from the employment exchange
    where eligible candidates get their names registered.
    Any regular appointment made on a post under the
    State or Union without issuing advertisement
    inviting applications from eligible candidates and
    without holding a proper selection where all eligible
    candidates get a fair chance to compete would
    violate the guarantee enshrined under Article 16 of
    the Constitution..."

    It was clearly held:
    "These binding decisions are clear imperatives that
    adherence to Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution
    is a must in the process of public employment."

    The contention of the learned counsel appearing on behalf of the
    Respondents that the appointments were irregular and not illegal, cannot
    be accepted for more than one reason. They were appointed only on the
    basis of their applications. The Recruitment Rules were not followed.
    Even the Selection Committee had not been properly constituted. In view
    of the ban in employment, no recruitment was permissible in law. The
    reservation policy adopted by the Appellant had not been maintained.
    Even cases of minorities had not been given due consideration.

    The Constitution Bench thought of directing regularisation of the
    services only of those employees whose appointments were irregular as
    explained in State of Mysore v. S.V. Narayanappa [(1967) 1 SCR 799],
    Nanjundappa v. T. Thimmiah & Anr.[(1972) 2 SCR 799] and B.N.
    Nagarajan & Ors. v. State of Karnataka & Ors. [(1979) 3 SCR 937]
    wherein this Court observed:

    "In B.N. Nagarajan & Ors. Vs. State of Karnataka &
    Ors. [(1979) 3 SCR 937], this court clearly held that
    the words "regular" or "regularization" do not
    connote permanence and cannot be construed so as
    to convey an idea of the nature of tenure of
    appointments. They are terms calculated to condone
    any procedural irregularities and are meant to cure
    only such defects as are attributable to methodology
    followed in making the appointments"

    Judged by the standards laid down by this Court in the
    aforementioned decisions, the appointments of the Respondents are
    illegal. They do not, thus, have any legal right to continue in service.

    It is true that the Respondents had been working for a long time. It
    may also be true that they had not been paid wages on a regular scale of
    pay. But, they did not hold any post. They were, therefore, not entitled
    to be paid salary on a regular scale of pay. Furthermore, only because the
    Respondents have worked for some time, the same by itself would not be
    a ground for directing regularisation of their services in view of the
    decision of this Court in Uma Devi (supra).

    In view of the authoritative pronouncement of the Constitution
    Bench, in our opinion, the impugned judgments cannot be sustained.
    They are set aside accordingly.

    S/Shri Somvir Singh, Hansraj Benewal, Malkiat Singh, Ranjit
    Singh are said to be working. They may be relieved of their posts. We
    may, however, observe that their cases may be considered for future
    appointment and age bar, if any, in view of the policy decision of the
    Appellant itself may be relaxed to the extent they had worked. The salary
    or any remuneration paid to them, however, may not be recovered. This
    order, however, is being passed in exercise of our jurisdiction under
    Article 142 of the Constitution of India keeping in view the principles
    embodied in Section 70 of the Contract Act. The appeals are allowed. No

    Thursday, March 13, 2008

    Amendment in Human Organ Transplantation Act

    The Hon’ble High Court of Delhi in CWP No. 813/2004 vide its order dated 06.09.2004 had set up a Committee to examine the provisions of Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994, and the Transplantation of Human Organs Rules, 1995. The report was submitted on 25.05.2005.

    A National Consultation was held on 18.05.2007 and the report was submitted in the second fortnight of August 2007. The recommended changes required amendments in the Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994 and the Rules framed there under. These changes are intended to facilitate genuine cases, increase transparency in transplantation procedures and to provide deterrent penalties for violation of the law. In so far as the Act is concerned, the following amendments have been proposed:

    1. To empower Union Territories, specially Government of NCT of Delhi to have their own appropriate authority instead of DGHS and / or Additional DG (Hospitals).

    2. To make the punishments under the Act harsh and cognizable for the illegal transplantation activities to deter the offenders from committing this crime.

    3. To provide for registration of the centres for removal of organs from the cadavers and brain stem dead patients for harvesting of organs instead of registration of centres for transplantations only.

    4. To allow swap operations between the related donor and recipients who do not match themselves but match with other similar donors / recipients.

    Sale / purchase of human organs is already prohibited under Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994. Appropriate authorities established under this Act are responsible and empowered to check the illegal activities of human organs trafficking.

    A Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulation) Bill 2007 has been introduced in Lok Sabha on 30.08.2007. The Bill seeks to provide for registration and regulation of clinical establishments in the country. National Council for clinical establishments has been set up to determine the standards for clinical establishments, classify the clinical establishment into different categories, develop minimum standards and their periodic review, compile, maintain and update a national register of clinical establishments, perform any other function determined by the Central Government, from time to time.

    This information was given by the Minister for Health & Family Welfare, Dr. Anbumani Ramadoss in a reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha.


    Friday, March 07, 2008

    HC for maximum 50% internal quota in UPPGMEE

    The Allahabad High Court has quashed a government notification allowing MBBS/BDS graduates of only UP medical colleges to appear in the UP Post-graduate Medical Entrance Examination, 2004. The court refused to cancel the examination and issue a mandamus for fresh tests saying it will lead to complications.

    The notification of November 19, 2003, modified by an order of December 15, 2003 allowed for 75 per cent of seats to be filled by the UPPGMEE qualifiers, leaving only 25 per cent seats to be filled by those qualifying the all-India Post-graduate Medical Examination.

    Justice DP Singh observed that the notification providing for 100 per cent institutional reservation, issued under section 28 (5) of the UP State Universities Act, was violative of Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution.

    Justice Singh further directed the state to frame guidelines providing maximum 50 per cent institutional reservation for various medical colleges and the universities of the state of UP for admission to UPPGMEE and in the rest 50 per cent seats, candidates who are residents of UP and others may be admitted.

    The state government cannot directly or indirectly deprive the candidates who are permanently or otherwise residing in the state of UP from admission to UPGMEE even if they have studied outside UP unless the institution from where they got their medical degree has been derecognised, the court added.

    Justice Singh remarked that the rules, regulations or orders issued in pursuance of power conferred under section 28 (5) is a sub-ordinate legislation hence it could not be issued in contravention of the provisions contained in the Act itself. There is no such provision of providing 100 per cent institutional reservation in the Act, he added. However, the above order was made applicable only to those petitioners who had appeared at the UPPGMEE -2004 following the court’s interim order.

    Friday, February 22, 2008

    Extension to PG Candidates Illegal


    DATED : 22/11/2007


    W.P(MD)No.9694 of 2007
    M.P(MD)No.1 of 2007
    W.P(MD)No.9695 of 2007 and
    M.P.(MD)No.1 of 2007

    Dr.D.Ramachandran ... Petitioner in

    Dr.N.Praveen ... Petitioner in

    The Director of Public Health
    & Preventive Medicine,
    Chennai - 6. ... Respondent in
    both writ petitions


    Writ Petitions filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, to
    issue a Writ of Certiorari calling for the records relating to the impugned
    order passed by the respondent in his proceedings R.No.47018/E5/A3/06 dated 9-
    11-2007 and quash the same as illegal.

    !For Petitioners ... Mr.C.Venkateshkumar
    for Mr.M.Ajmal Khan



    In both the writ petitions, petitioners seek to quash the order dated
    9.11.2007 passed by the respondent in his proceedings R.No.47018/E5/A3/06.

    2. Petitioner in W.P.No.9694 of 2007 had completed M.B.B.S. Course and
    applied for selection to the post of Assistant Surgeon in the Tamil Nadu Medical
    Service during 2003-2004, conducted by the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission.
    He was selected for the post under Category-2 of Class-1 of the Tamil Nadu
    Medical Service by order dated 15.7.2006. Petitioner also got selected to
    undergo the course M.D.(General Medicine) in Thanjavur Medical College in May,
    2006, duration of the course being three years. According to the petitioner, he
    had applied for relaxation of Rule 21(a) of the Special Rules for Tamil Nadu
    Medical Services and the respondent by proceedings dated 29.7.2006 permitted the
    petitioner to join in the post of Assistant Surgeon in the Primary Health
    Centre, immediately after completion of the course. Petitioner is continuing
    his M.D. Course till date and the said P.G. Degree course will be over by March,
    2009. Meanwhile, on 9.11.2007, the respondent issued the impugned order,
    directing the petitioner to report for duty within seven days, failing which his
    name will be removed from the selection list and the waiting list candidate will
    be accommodated in his place. The said order is challenged in this writ
    petition on the ground that in W.P.No.46644 of 2006, this Court issued direction
    to release the reserve list, in which the petitioner was not a party and the
    relaxation of Rule 21(a) having been granted with condition to join duty on
    completion of the P.G.Degree course, the impugned order passed by the respondent
    is unsustainable and therefore the petitioner has got a right to continue the
    P.G. course and he can join in service after completion of the course.

    3. The petitioner in W.P.No.9695 of 2007, who completed the MBBS
    course in the year 2003 also applied for the post of Assistant Surgeon 2003-2004
    as per the notification issued by the TNPSC and was selected to the post of
    Assistant Surgeon under Category-2, Class-1 and he was posted at the Primary
    Health Centre, Melakodumalur, Paramakudi, by order dated 28.6.2006. He was also
    selected to undergo P.G.Diploma course in Radio Diagnosis and he is undergoing
    the course in Thanjavur Medical College from June, 2006, the duration of the
    course being two years. This petitioner also obtained permission to join duty
    after completion of the P.G.Diploma course in relaxation of Rule 21(a), which
    was granted by order dated 29.7.2006 with condition to join the post
    immediately on completion of the course and he will be completing the course in
    the year 2008. The grievance of the petitioner is that the said order is now
    withdrawn and the impugned order is passed and the same is challenged on the
    very same ground as stated supra.

    4. Heard the learned counsel for the petitioner.

    5. Admittedly the petitioners have applied for the post of Assistant
    Surgeon in the Tamil Nadu Medical Service for the year 2003-2004 in terms of the
    notification issued by the TNPSC by advertisement No.067. In the said
    advertisement inviting applications, certain conditions were imposed and the
    relevant conditions (ii), (iii) and (vi) are extracted hereunder,
    (ii) Candidates selected for appointment should join duty within 30 days. No
    extension of joining time will be granted under any circumstances, even if they
    are undergoing higher studies/Post Graduate Course. The name of the candidates
    who do not join duty within the stipulated time would be removed from the
    approved list without assigning any reasons therefor.
    (iii) Those who are undergoing Post-Graduate Course and applying for the post of
    Assistant Surgeon, should submit a declaration to the effect that they will join
    duty within the time limit of 30 days in the event of their appointment to the
    post of Assistant Surgeon.
    (iv) .........
    (v) .........
    (vi) Candidates selected and appointed as Assistant Surgeon after joining duty
    shall not be permitted to undergo P.G. Course within a period of 2 years
    excluding leave.
    (Emphasis supplied)
    Admittedly the petitioners have applied for selection by accepting the said
    conditions. Even though the petitioners were not selected for P.G. Course at the
    time of submitting applications and on the date of selection, they were put on
    notice that on their selection, they will not be permitted to undergo P.G.
    Course within a period of two years, excluding the leave.

    6. Now, the petitioners having applied for selection by accepting the
    said conditions, whether they have got any right to challenge the impugned
    order, is the question to be decided in the present writ petitions.

    7. The learned counsel for the petitioners submitted that the
    petitioners were given time by relaxation of rule 21(a) by the respondent and
    they can join duty on their completion of P.G.Degree/P.G.Diploma course and the
    relaxation having been granted, the impugned order directing the petitioners to
    join in the post of Civil Surgeon within seven days cannot be sustained.

    8. From the conditions imposed in the instructions to candidates, it is
    evident that no extension of joining time will be granted under any
    circumstances even if they are undergoing higher studies-P.G.Degree/P.G.Diploma
    courses and that the name of the candidate, who do not join duty within the
    stipulated time would be removed from the approved list without assigning any
    reason and those candidates who were undergoing course shall submit a
    declaration to the effect that they will join duty within the time limit of 30
    days in the event of appointment to the post of Assistant Surgeon. Hence the
    relaxation sought for by the petitioners and the grant of the same will not
    confer any benefit on the petitioners, particularly when the candidates were put
    on notice that relaxation will not be granted under any circumstances. The said
    notification nowhere stipulates that in deserving cases, relaxation can be
    applied for and granted. In the absence of any such clause in the notification,
    petitioners are not entitled to apply for relaxation and the relaxation granted
    is also in contravention of the said notification and therefore the said
    relaxation earlier granted will not confer any right on the petitioners to
    contend that they be allowed to join after completion of their respective

    9. It is well settled in law that unless the power of relaxation is
    stated in the notification, no one can claim relaxation as a matter of right.
    Further, if relaxation power is stated in the notification many candidates,
    similarly placed with that of petitioners might have applied and opted for
    selection to the Assistant Surgeon Post and might have applied for relaxation of
    the rule seeking joining time. Hence the contention of the petitioners that the
    respondents cannot withdraw the relaxation granted earlier, is not sustainable.

    10. In W.P.No.46644 & 45484 of 2006 dated 4.9.2007, this Court passed an
    order directing the Director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Chennai,
    to send a proposals with regard to the details of candidates, who have not
    joined duty within four weeks, to the TNPSC for issuing appointment orders to
    the candidates in the reserved list. The said order has been implemented by the
    Director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Chennai-6, by sending the
    list to all the candidates, who have not joined duty, in spite of selection and
    the said vacancies are sought to be filled up from the reserved list.
    Petitioners cannot contend that they are not party to the said proceedings and
    therefore the said direction cannot be put against them. The direction given in
    the said writ petition was at the instance of reserved list candidates.

    11. Admittedly the petitioners have not joined in their respective
    posts. If the petitioners have joined and availed leave it will be a different
    matter as the posts are already filled up and the vacancies can be treated only
    as leave vacancies. Admittedly the petitioners have not joined in the posts on
    their selection and therefore those posts shall be treated as vacant posts.
    Therefore the reserve list candidates are entitled to be considered in the said
    vacant posts.

    12. The post of Assistant Surgeon in the Government Hospitals cannot be
    kept vacant till the petitioners complete their P.G.Degree/Diploma Courses.
    Filling up of vacancies of Assistant Surgeons in the Government Hospitals is a
    paramount duty of the Government to look after the health of the general public,
    especially to the poor and needy. In every Government Hospital, Assistant
    Surgeons shall be present at all times to attend to emergency treatments. If
    the Doctors posts are not filled up in time, the general public will be very
    much affected and their right to health, which forms part of basic human right,
    guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution will be seriously prejudiced.

    (a) The right of an injured citizen to get immediate medical treatment
    is emphasised by the Supreme Court in the decision reported in AIR 1989 SC 2039
    = (1989) 4 SCC 286 (Parmanand Katara v. Union of India) and in paragraphs 7 to
    9, it is held as follows,
    "7. There can be no second opinion that preservation of human life is of
    paramount importance. That is so on account of the fact that once life is lost,
    the status quo ante cannot be restored as resurrection is beyond the capacity of
    man. The patient whether he be an innocent person or be a criminal liable to
    punishment under the laws of the society, it is the obligation of those who are
    in charge of the health of the community to preserve life so that the innocent
    may be protected and the guilty may be punished. Social laws do not contemplate
    death by negligence to tantamount to legal punishment.
    8. Article 21 of the Constitution casts the obligation on the State to
    preserve life. The provision as explained by this Court in scores of decisions
    has emphasised and reiterated with gradually increasing emphasis that position.
    A doctor at the government hospital positioned to meet this State obligation is,
    therefore, duty bound to extend medical assistance for preserving life. Every
    doctor whether at a government hospital or otherwise has the professional
    obligation to extend his services with due expertise for protecting life. No law
    or State action can intervene to avoid/delay the discharge of the paramount
    obligation cast upon members of the medical profession. The obligation being
    total, absolute and paramount, laws of procedure whether in statutes or
    otherwise which would interfere with the discharge of this obligation cannot be
    sustained and must, therefore, give way. ....
    9. We are of the view that every doctor wherever he be within the
    territory of India should forthwith be aware of this position and, therefore, we
    direct that this decision of ours shall be published in all journals reporting
    decisions of this Court and adequate publicity highlighting these aspects should
    be given by the national media as also through the Doordarshan and the All India
    Radio. The Registry shall forward adequate number of copies of this judgment to
    every High Court so that without delay the respective High Courts can forward
    them to every Sessions Judge within their respective jurisdictions and the
    Sessions Judges in their turn shall give due publicity to the same within their
    jurisdictions. The Medical Council of India shall forward copies of this
    judgment to every medical college affiliated to it. Copies of the judgment shall
    be forwarded to every State Government with a direction that wide publicity
    should be given about the relevant aspects so that every practising doctor would
    soon become aware of the position."
    (b) Right to get timely medical treatment to persons in need was
    considered by the Supreme Court in the decision of Paschim Banga Khet Mazdoor
    Samity v. State of W.B., reported in, (1996) 4 SCC 37 in para 9 which reads as
    "9. The Constitution envisages the establishment of a welfare State at
    the federal level as well as at the State level. In a welfare State the primary
    duty of the Government is to secure the welfare of the people. Providing
    adequate medical facilities for the people is an essential part of the
    obligations undertaken by the Government in a welfare State. The Government
    discharges this obligation by running hospitals and health centres which provide
    medical care to the person seeking to avail of those facilities. Article 21
    imposes an obligation on the State to safeguard the right to life of every
    person. Preservation of human life is thus of paramount importance. The
    government hospitals run by the State and the medical officers employed therein
    are duty-bound to extend medical assistance for preserving human life. Failure
    on the part of a government hospital to provide timely medical treatment to a
    person in need of such treatment results in violation of his right to life
    guaranteed under Article 21. ...."
    13. It is well settled in law that when individual rights and public
    interests are pitted against each other, the Court should always lean towards
    the public interest instead of the rights of a private person. Therefore, it is
    the duty of the respondent to fill up the vacant post of the Assistant Surgeon
    posts in the Government Hospitals on emergent basis by issuing appointment
    orders to the candidates in the reserve list, if the selected candidates fail to
    join duty.

    14. There is no justification on the part of the petitioners to contend
    that they should be allowed to continue the P.G. Degree/Diploma courses and
    after completion of their respective course, they shall be permitted to join
    duty as Assistant Surgeon. Petitioner in W.P.No.9694 of 2006 is completing the
    course in March, 2009, and the petitioner in W.P.No.9695 of 2006 is completing
    the course in June, 2008. Till such long period the Assistant Surgeon Posts in
    the Government Hospitals cannot at all be kept vacant, particularly when reserve
    list candidates are available to join duty immediately, on their selection.

    15. From the order of this Court made in W.P.No.46644 & 45484 of 2006
    dated 4.9.2007, it could be seen that the respondents herein requested the TNPSC
    to release the candidates from the reserve list for filling up 469 vacancies
    prevailing in three Directorates, which arose due to non-joining of the selected
    candidates. Thus, it is evident that not only the petitioners, but several
    other selected candidates numbering 469 have not joined in the post of Assistant
    Surgeon by one reason or the other. The respondent cannot be a silent spectator
    by not filling up such large number of vacancies when number of candidates
    placed in the reserve list are willing to join duty immediately, if selected.

    16. The binding nature of the instructions to the candidates is well
    settled. In fact, the very same notification/instructions to candidates issued
    by the TNPSC for the year 2003-3004, came up for consideration before a Division
    Bench of this Court in the decision reported in 2006 WLR 574 (Dr.M.Vennila v.
    Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission). In paragraph 16, the question as to
    whether the requirement as stated in the Notification/Information Brochure are
    to be strictly complied with or not and whether they are mandatory was
    considered. In paragraphs 19 and 25, the Division Bench held thus,
    "19. The principle that the prospectus is binding on all persons
    concerned has been laid by the Supreme Court in Punjab Engineering College,
    Chandigarh vs. Sanjay Gulati (AIR 1983 Supreme Court 580 = 1983 (96) LW 172
    S.N.). Following the same, a Division Bench of this Court has also observed in
    Rathnaswamy, Dr.A. Vs. Director of Medical Education (1986 WLR 207) that the
    rules and norms of the prospectus are to be strictly and solemnly adhered to.
    The same view is also taken by another Division Bench of this Court in Nithiyan
    P. and S.P.Prasanna vs. State of Tamil Nadu (1994 WLR 624). The same principle
    is reiterated in the case of Dr.M.Ashiq Nihmathullah vs. The Government of Tamil
    Nadu and others reported in 2005 WLR 697. It is clear that the prospectus is a
    piece of information and it is binding on the candidates as well as on the State
    including the machinery appointed by it for identifying the candidates for
    selection and admission.
    20. ...........
    21. ...........
    22. ...........
    23. ...........
    24. ...........

    25. In the earlier part of our order we have extracted relevant
    provision, viz., Instructions, etc. to Candidates as well as the Information
    Brochure of the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission, we hold that the terms and
    conditions of Instructions, etc. to Candidates and Information Brochure have the
    force of law and have to be strictly complied with. We are also of the view
    that no modification/relaxation can be made by the Court in exercise of powers
    under Article 226 of the Constitution of India and application filed in
    violation of the Instructions, etc. to Candidates and the terms of the
    Information Brochure is liable to be rejected. We are also of the view that
    strict adherence to the terms and conditions is paramount consideration and the
    same cannot be relaxed unless such power is specifically provided to a named
    authority by the use of clear language. As said at the beginning of our order,
    since similar violations are happening in the cases relating to admission of
    students to various courses, we have dealt with the issue exhaustively. We make
    it clear that the above principles are applicable not only to applications
    calling for employment, but also to the cases relating to the admission of
    students to various courses. We are constrained to make this observation to
    prevent avoidable prejudice to other applicants at large.

    17. In the impugned order, the respondent only reiterates the clause
    contained in the instructions to candidates, which the petitioners also
    undertook to abide by while filling their application forms. They have
    participated in the examination, attended interview and also subjected
    themselves for selection after accepting all the terms and conditions.
    18. Whether a person accepting the conditions contained in the norms for
    selection can challenge the said conditions after participating in selection,
    came up for consideration before the Supreme Court in the decision reported in
    AIR 1998 SC 795 (Union of India and another v. N.Chandrasekharan and others),
    wherein in paragraph 13 it is held thus,

    "13. We have considered the rival submissions in the light of the facts
    presented before us. It is not in dispute that all the candidates were made
    aware of the procedure for promotion before they sat for the written test and
    before they appeared before the Departmental Promotion Committee. Therefore,
    they cannot turn around and contend later when they found they were not selected
    by challenging that procedure and contending that the marks prescribed for
    interview and confidential reports are disproportionately high and the
    authorities cannot fix a minimum to be secured either at interview or in the
    assessment on confidential report. ......."
    19. The principle of estoppel is considered by the Honourable Supreme
    Court in various decisions.
    (i) In the decision reported in AIR 1978 SC 28 (I.L.Honnegouda v. State
    of Karnataka and others) the Honourable Supreme Court held thus,
    "In view of our judgment in Appeals Nos.883 and 898 to 905 of 1975 :
    (Reported in AIR 1977 SC 876) which has just been delivered and the fact that
    the appellant acquiesced to the 1970 Rules by applying for the post of the
    Village Accountant, appearing before the Recruitment Committee for interview in
    1972 and 1974 and taking a chance of being selected, the present appeal which
    questions the constitutionality of Rules 4 and 5 of the 1970 Rules cannot be
    allowed. It is accordingly dismissed but without any order as to costs."
    (ii) In 1986 (Supp) SCC 285 (Om Prakash Shukla v. Akhilesh Kumar Shukla)
    in paragraph 24, the Honourable Supreme Court held thus,
    "24. Moreover, this is a case where the petitioner in the writ petition
    should not have been granted any relief. He had appeared for the examination
    without protest. He filed the petition only after he had perhaps realised that
    he would not succeed in the examination. The High Court itself has observed that
    the setting aside of the results of examinations held in the other districts
    would cause hardship to the candidates who had appeared there. The same
    yardstick should have been applied to the candidates in the district of Kanpur
    also. They were not responsible for the conduct of the examination."

    (iii) In AIR 1995 SC 1088 = (1995) 3 SCC 486 (Madan Lal v. State of Jammu
    & Kashmir), (SCC p.9) it is held thus,
    "9. ........ The petitioners also appeared at the oral interview conducted
    by the Members concerned of the Commission who interviewed the petitioners as
    well as the contesting respondents concerned. Thus the petitioners took a chance
    to get themselves selected at the said oral interview. Only because they did not
    find themselves to have emerged successful as a result of their combined
    performance both at written test and oral interview, they have filed this
    petition. It is now well settled that if a candidate takes a calculated chance
    and appears at the interview, then, only because the result of the interview is
    not palatable to him, he cannot turn round and subsequently contend that the
    process of interview was unfair or the Selection Committee was not properly
    constituted. In the case of Om Prakash Shukla v. Akhilesh Kumar Shukla (AIR 1986
    SC 1043) it has been clearly laid down by a Bench of three learned Judges of
    this Court that when the petitioner appeared at the examination without protest
    and when he found that he would not succeed in examination he filed a petition
    challenging the said examination, the High Court should not have granted any
    relief to such a petitioner."
    (iv) The above said decisions of the Supreme Court were followed by the
    Full Bench of this Court in the decision reported in AIR 2000 MADRAS 174
    (R.Murali v. R.Kamalakkannan)(FB) and in paragraph 55, question No.2 was
    answered thus,
    "Question No.2: We hold that writ petitioners are not entitled to
    challenge the selection after having participated in the written examination on
    the principle of estoppel."

    20. The above referred judgments are followed in a recent decision of a
    Division Bench of the Principal Bench at Madras in (2007) 5 MLJ 648 (Indian
    Airlines Ltd. v.K.Narayanan), wherein the contention of the management therein
    that person participated in selection in terms of the notification are estopped
    from challenging the mode of selection or the conditions contained in the
    instructions/rules was upheld.

    21. In the cases on hand, petitioners are not justified in contending
    that the Government, having granted time to complete the course and permitted
    them to join duty immediately on completion of the course. As already stated the
    said relaxation is contrary to the notification as no authority is vested with
    the power as per the said notification. The very same issue is answered in 2006
    WLR 574 (cited supra) and in paragraph 25 it is clearly stated that 'we are also
    of the view that strict adherence to the terms and conditions is paramount
    consideration and the same cannot be relaxed unless such power is specifically
    provided to a named authority by the use of clear language'. If such power is
    stated in the notification similarly placed persons i.e., persons who were
    undergoing P.G.Degree Course and persons, who were awaiting to join P.G.Degree
    Course could have also applied and participated in selection and availed similar
    relaxation of Rule 21(a). Hence the relaxation granted, contrary to the
    conditions contained in the instructions to candidate is violative of Articles
    14 and 16 of the Constitution denying equal opportunity to similarly placed

    22. In the light of the above conclusion, I am of the view that there is
    no merit in the writ petition and the same is dismissed in limine. Connected
    miscellaneous petitions are also dismissed.



    The Director of Public Health & Preventive Medicine,
    Chennai - 6.

    Wednesday, February 13, 2008

    High Court paves way for filling vacancies in PHCs


    For earlier news, please see Extension of Joining Time Illegal - Chennai High Court

    Relaxation granted for candidates selected in 2006 held invalid

    MADURAI: The Madras High Court has paved the way for filling 469 vacancies of Assistant Surgeon in primary health centres (PHCs) across the State as it held invalid the relaxation granted for candidates selected in 2006 to join duty after completing their post graduation/postgraduate diploma course.

    Dismissing a batch of writ appeals filed before the Madurai Bench by a few doctors, the First Bench, comprising Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah and Justice S. Nagamuthu, said the then Director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine was not empowered to grant such relaxation.

    The Judges said the post of Medical Officer in primary health centres could not be kept vacant till the appellants completed their post-graduation.
    On a priority basis

    Filling of vacancies had to be done by the State on a priority basis as it was the paramount duty of the government to look after the health of the general public, especially the poor and the needy.
    Effect on public

    “In every Government Hospital, doctors shall be present at all times to attend to emergency cases. If the posts of doctor are not filled in time, the general public will be largely affected and their right to health, which forms part of basic human right guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, will be seriously prejudiced,” the Bench observed.

    It pointed out that the advertisement calling for applications to the post of Assistant Surgeon had categorically stated that the selected candidates should join duty within 30 days and no extension would be granted if they were undergoing postgraduate courses.

    “Having applied for selection by accepting the said conditions, it is not open for the appellants to seek extension of time,” the Judges ruled.

    The appellants approached the court after the Director of Public Health issued a notice on November 9, 2007, directing them to report for duty within seven days failing which their names would be removed from the selection list.

    Justice K. Chandru dismissed all the writ petitions and hence the present writ appeals.

    Sunday, February 10, 2008

    What doctors shall not do, according to the Code of Ethics


    What doctors shall not do, according to the Code of Ethics

    The Code of Ethics Regulations, 2002 of the Medical Council of India specifies:


    A physician shall not aid or abet or commit any of the following acts which shall be construed as unethical —


    Soliciting of patients directly or indirectly, by a physician, by a group of physicians or by institutions or organisations is unethical. A physician shall not make use of him/her (or his/her name) as subject of any form or manner of advertising or publicity through any mode either alone or in conjunction with others which is of such a character as to invite attention to him or to his professional position, skill, qualification, achievements, attainments, specialities, appointments, associations, affiliations or honours and/or of such character as would ordinarily result in his self aggrandisement.

    A physician shall not give to any person, whether for compensation or otherwise, any approval, recommendation, endorsement, certificate, report or statement with respect of any drug, medicine, nostrum remedy, surgical, or therapeutic article, apparatus or appliance or any commercial product or article with respect of any property, quality or use thereof or any test, demonstration or trial thereof, for use in connection with his name, signature, or photograph in any form or manner of advertising through any mode nor shall he boast of cases, operations, cures or remedies or permit the publication of report thereof through any mode. A medical practitioner is however permitted to make a formal announcement in press regarding the following:

    1. On starting practice.

    2. On change of type of practice.

    3. On changing address.

    4. On temporary absence from duty.

    5. On resumption of another practice.

    6. On succeeding to another practice.

    7. Public declaration of charges.

    Printing of self photograph, or any such material of publicity in the letter head or on sign board of the consulting room or any such clinical establishment shall be regarded as acts of self advertisement and unethical conduct on the part of the physician. However, printing of sketches, diagrams, picture of human system shall not be treated as unethical.

    Courts decide to outsource management of documents


    Courts decide to outsource management of documents

    Legal Correspondent

    Registrars-General conference wants States to meet the cost of digitisation

  • Vigilance cell mooted in each district
  • To consider accreditation of reporters of newspapers

    New Delhi: Confronted by inadequate space to store voluminous records in the context of mounting arrears of cases, the High Courts and subordinate courts have decided to outsource the management of court documents.

    A decision to this effect was taken recently at a conference of Registrars-General of High Courts and Law Secretaries of various State governments. It said: ``Since space is a constraint for keeping the old records in High Courts and subordinate courts, the High Court may consider preservation and maintenance of court records by digitisation and scanning, through outsourcing, which will not only save cost but also time. The State Governments should provide funds required for digitisation and scanning of court records.'' Another drastic decision empowered the High Courts to consider outsourcing various services relating to maintenance of court buildings so as to minimise the expenditure and bring efficiency.

    The process of computerisation in High Courts and district courts with emphasis on interlinking status reports of each case should be continued by the High Court concerned independent of the National Informatics Centre and E-Committee with the help of funds provided by State governments.

    On streamlining of issue of copies of judgments and various orders, it was decided that a computerised endorsement about the particulars of filing of the applications was sufficient for issue of copies.

    At present judges to the High Court are appointed in the ratio of two-third (of the strength of judges) from among lawyers and one-third from among the district judges. The meeting requested that in future the ratio should be 50:50 from the bar and the subordinate judiciary.

    It called for conferring limited financial autonomy on the High Courts and involvement of professionals in the financial management of the High Courts and district courts. The conference decided to have a vigilance cell in each district, to be headed by a senior judicial officer to keep effective control on the court staff and to regularly monitor their activities so that the image of the courts was not tarnished in the eyes of the public.

    It was resolved that the High Courts might consider accreditation of reporters from various newspapers and electronic media on the pattern of the Supreme Court so that the reporting in the media was true and accurate.

  • Friday, January 25, 2008

    Supreme Court: Patient’s consent must for surgical interventions

    CASE NO.:
    Appeal (civil) 1949 of 2004

    Samira Kohli

    Dr. Prabha Manchanda & Anr.

    DATE OF JUDGMENT: 16/01/2008

    B. N. Agarwal, P. P. Naolekar & R. V. Raveendran

    J U D G M E N T


    This appeal is filed against the order dated 19.11.2003 passed by
    the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (for short
    'Commission') rejecting the appellants complaint (O.P. No.12/1996)
    under Section 21 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (Act for short).

    Undisputed facts

    2. On 9.5.1995, the appellant, an unmarried woman aged 44 years,
    visited the clinic of the first respondent (for short the respondent)
    complaining of prolonged menstrual bleeding for nine days. The
    respondent examined and advised her to undergo an ultrasound test on the
    same day. After examining the report, the respondent had a discussion
    with appellant and advised her to come on the next day (10.5.1995) for a
    laparoscopy test under general anesthesia, for making an affirmative

    3. Accordingly, on 10.5.1995, the appellant went to the respondent's
    clinic with her mother. On admission, the appellant's signatures were
    taken on (i) admission and discharge card; (ii) consent form for hospital
    admission and medical treatment; and (iii) consent form for surgery. The
    Admission Card showed that admission was for diagnostic and operative
    laparoscopy on 10.5.1995". The consent form for surgery filled by Dr.
    Lata Rangan (respondent's assistant) described the procedure to be
    undergone by the appellant as "diagnostic and operative laparoscopy.
    Laparotomy may be needed". Thereafter, appellant was put under general
    anesthesia and subjected to a laparoscopic examination. When the
    appellant was still unconscious, Dr. Lata Rengen, who was assisting the
    respondent, came out of the Operation Theatre and took the consent of
    appellants mother, who was waiting outside, for performing
    hysterectomy under general anesthesia. Thereafter, the Respondent
    performed a abdominal hystecrectomy (removal of uterus) and bilateral
    salpingo-oopherectomy (removal of ovaries and fallopian tubes). The
    appellant left the respondents clinic on 15.5.1995 without settling the

    4. On 23.5.1995, the respondent lodged a complaint with the Police
    alleging that on 15.5.1995, the Appellant's friend (Commander Zutshi)
    had abused and threatened her (respondent) and that against medical
    advice, he got the appellant discharged without clearing the bill. The
    appellant also lodged a complaint against the respondent on 31.5.1995,
    alleging negligence and unauthorized removal of her reproductive organs.
    The first respondent issued a legal notice dated 5.6.1995 demanding
    Rs.39,325/- for professional services. The appellant sent a reply dated
    12.7.1995. There was a rejoinder dated 18.7.1995 from the respondent
    and a further reply dated 11.9.1995 from the appellant. On 19.1.1996 the
    appellant filed a complaint before the Commission claiming a
    compensation of Rs.25 lakhs from the Respondent. The appellant alleged
    that respondent was negligent in treating her; that the radical surgery by
    which her uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes were removed without her
    consent, when she was under general anesthesia for a Laparascopic test,
    was unlawful, unauthorized and unwarranted; that on account of the
    removal of her reproductive organs, she had suffered premature
    menopause necessitating a prolonged medical treatment and a Harmone
    Replacement Therapy (HRT) course, apart from making her vulnerable to
    health problems by way of side effects. The compensation claimed was
    for the loss of reproductive organs and consequential loss of opportunity
    to become a mother, for diminished matrimonial prospects, for physical
    injury resulting in the loss of vital body organs and irreversible
    permanent damage, for pain, suffering emotional stress and trauma, and
    for decline in the health and increasing vulnerability to health hazards.

    5. During the pendency of the complaint, at the instance of the
    respondent, her insurer - New India Assurance Co. Ltd, was impleaded as
    the second respondent. Parties led evidence - both oral and documentary,
    Appellant examined an expert witness (Dr. Puneet Bedi, Obstetrician &
    Gynaecologist), her mother (Sumi Kohli) and herself. The respondent
    examined herself, an expert witness (Dr. Sudha Salhan, Professor of
    Obstetrics & Gynaecology and President of Association of Obstetricians
    and Gynaecologists of Delhi), Dr. Latha Rangan (Doctor who assisted the
    Respondent) and Dr. Shiela Mehra (Anaesthetist for the surgery). The
    medical records and notices exchanged were produced as evidence. After
    hearing arguments, the Commission dismissed the complaint by order
    dated 19.11.2003. The Commission held : (a) the appellant voluntarily
    visited the respondents clinic for treatment and consented for diagnostic
    procedures and operative surgery; (ii) the hysterectomy and other surgical
    procedures were done with adequate care and caution; and (iii) the
    surgical removal of uterus, ovaries etc. was necessitated as the appellant
    was found to be suffering from endometriosis (Grade IV), and if they had
    not been removed, there was likelihood of the lesion extending to the
    intestines and bladder and damaging them. Feeling aggrieved, the
    appellant has filed this appeal.

    The appellants version :

    6. The appellant consulted respondent on 9.5.1995. Respondent
    wanted an ultra-sound test to be done on the same day. In the evening,
    after seeing the ultrasound report, the respondent informed her that she
    was suffering from fibroids and that to make a firm diagnosis, she had to
    undergo a laparoscopic test the next day. The respondent informed her
    that the test was a minor procedure involving a small puncture for
    examination under general anesthesia. The respondent informed her that
    the costs of laparoscopic test, hospitalization, and anesthetists charges
    would be around Rs.8000 to 9,000. Respondent spent hardly 4 to 5
    minutes with her and there was no discussion about the nature of
    treatment. Respondent merely told her that she will discuss the line of
    treatment, after the laparoscopic test. On 10.5.1995, she went to the clinic
    only for a diagnostic laparoscopy. Her signature was taken on some blank
    printed forms without giving her an opportunity to read the contents. As
    only a diagnostic procedure by way of a laparoscopic test was to be
    conducted, there was no discussion, even on 10.5.1995, with regard to
    any proposed treatment. As she was intending to marry within a month
    and start a family, she would have refused consent for removal of her
    reproductive organs and would have opted for conservative treatment,
    had she been informed about any proposed surgery for removal of her
    reproductive organs.

    7. When the appellant was under general anaesthesia, respondent
    rushed out of the operation theatre and told appellant's mother that she
    had started bleeding profusely and gave an impression that the only way
    to save her life was by performing an extensive surgery. Appellant's aged
    mother was made to believe that there was a life threatening situation,
    and her signature was taken to some paper. Respondent did not choose to
    wait till appellant regained consciousness, to discuss about the findings of
    the laparoscopic test and take her consent for treatment. The appellant
    was kept in the dark about the radical surgery performed on her. She
    came to know about it, only on 14.5.1995 when respondents son casually
    informed her about the removal of her reproductive organs. When she
    asked the respondent as to why there should be profuse bleeding during a
    Laparoscopic test (as informed to appellant's mother) and why her
    reproductive organs were removed in such haste without informing her,
    without her consent, and without affording her an opportunity to consider
    other options or seek other opinion, the respondent answered rudely that
    due to her age, conception was not possible, and therefore, the removal of
    her reproductive organs did not make any difference.

    8. As she was admitted only for a diagnostic procedure, namely a
    laparoscopy test, and as she had given consent only for a laparoscopy test
    and as her mothers consent for conducting hysterectomy had been
    obtained by misrepresentation, there was no valid consent for the radical
    surgery. The respondent also tried to cover up her unwarranted/negligent
    act by falsely alleging that the appellant was suffering from
    endometriosis. The respondent was guilty of two distinct acts of
    negligence: the first was the failure to take her consent, much less an
    informed consent, for the radical surgery involving removal of
    reproductive organs; and the second was the failure to exhaust
    conservative treatment before resorting to radical surgery, particularly
    when such drastic irreversible surgical procedure was not warranted in
    her case. The respondent did not inform the appellant, of the possible
    risks, side effects and complications associated with such surgery, before
    undertaking the surgical procedure. Such surgery without her consent was
    also in violation of medical Rules and ethics. Removal of her
    reproductive organs also resulted in a severe physical impairment, and
    necessitated prolonged further treatment. The respondent was also not
    qualified to claim to be a specialist in Obstetrics and Gynaecology and
    therefore could not have performed the surgery which only a qualified
    Gynaecologist could perform.

    The respondents version

    9. The appellant had an emergency consultation with the respondent
    on 9.5.1995, complaining that she had heavy vaginal bleeding from
    30.4.1995, that her periods were irregular, and that she was suffering
    from excessive, irregular and painful menstruation (menorrhagia and
    dysmenorrhea) for a few months. On a clinical examination, the
    respondent found a huge mass in the pelvic region and tenderness in the
    whole area. In view of the severe condition, Respondent advised an
    ultrasound examination on the same evening. Such examination showed
    fibroids in the uterus, a large chocolate cyst (also known as endometrical
    cyst) on the right side and small cysts on the left side. On the basis of
    clinical and ultra sound examination, she made a provisional diagnosis of
    endometriosis and informed the appellant about the nature of the ailment,
    the anticipated extent of severity, and the modality of treatment. She
    further informed the appellant that a laparoscopic examination was
    needed to confirm the diagnosis; that if on such examination, she found
    that the condition was manageable with conservative surgery, she would
    only remove the chocolate cyst and fulgurate the endometric areas and
    follow it by medical therapy; and that if the lesion was extensive, then
    considering her age and likelihood of destruction of the function of the
    tubes, she will perform hysterectomy. She also explained the surgical
    procedure involved, and answered appellant's queries. The appellant
    stated that she was in acute discomfort and wanted a permanent cure and,
    therefore whatever was considered necessary, including a hysterectomy
    may be performed. When appellants mother called on her on the same
    evening, the respondent explained to her also about the nature of disease
    and the proposed treatment, and appellant's mother stated that she may do
    whatever was best for her daughter. According to the accepted medical
    practice, if endometriosis is widespread in the pelvis causing adhesions,
    and if the woman is over 40 years of age, the best and safest form of cure
    was to remove the uterus and the ovaries. As there is a decline in
    fecundity for most women in the fourth decade and a further decline in
    women in their forties, hysterectomy is always considered as a reasonable
    and favoured option. Further, endometriosis itself affected fertility
    adversely. All these were made known to the appellant before she
    authorised the removal of uterus and ovaries, if found necessary on
    laparoscopic examination.

    10. On 10.5.1995, the appellants consent was formally recorded in the
    consent form by Dr. Lata Rangan - respondent's assistant. Dr. Lata
    Rangan informed the appellant about the consequences of such consent
    and explained the procedure that was proposed. The appellant signed the
    consent forms only after she read the duly filled up forms and understood
    their contents. All the requisite tests to be conducted mandatorily before
    the surgery were performed including Blood Grouping, HIV,
    Hemoglobin, PCV, BT, CT and ECG. The laparoscopic examination of
    the uterus surface confirmed the provisional diagnosis of endometriosis.
    The right ovary was enlarged and showed a chocolate cyst stuck to the
    bowel. Right tube was also involved in the lesion. The left ovary and tube
    were also stuck to the bowel near the cervix. A few small cysts were seen
    on the left ovary. The pelvic organs were thick and difficult to mobilize.
    Having regard to the extent of the lesion and the condition of appellant's
    uterus and ovaries, she decided that conservative surgery would not be
    sufficient and the appellants problem required removal of uterus and
    ovaries. The respondent sent her assistant, Dr. Lata Rangan to explain to
    appellants mother that the lesion would not respond to conservative
    surgery and a hysterectomy had to be performed and took her consent.
    The surgery was extremely difficult due to adhesions and vascularity of
    surface. A sub-total hysterectomy was done followed by the removal of
    rest of the stump of cervix. As the right ovary was completely stuck
    down to bowel, pouch of douglas, post surface and tube, it had to be
    removed piecemeal. When appellant regained consciousness, she was
    informed about the surgery. The appellant felt assured that heavy
    bleeding and pain would not recur. There was no protest either from the
    appellant or her mother, in regard to the removal of the ovaries and

    11. However, on 15.5.1995, Commander Zutshi to whom appellant
    was said to have been engaged, created a scene and got her discharged.
    At the time of discharge, the summary of procedure and prescription of
    medicines were given to her. As the bill was not paid, the respondent
    filed Suit No.469/1995 for recovery of the bill amount and the said suit
    was decreed in due course.

    12. Respondent performed the proper surgical procedure in pursuance
    of the consent given by the appellant and there was no negligence,
    illegality, impropriety or professional misconduct. There was real and
    informed consent by the appellant for the removal of her reproductive
    organs. The surgery (removal of uterus and ovaries), not only cured the
    appellant of her disease but also saved her intestines, bladder and ureter
    from possible damage. But for the surgical removal, there was likelihood
    of the intestines being damaged due to extension of lesion thereby
    causing bleeding, fibrosis and narrowing of the gut; there was also
    likelihood of the lesion going to the surface of the bladder penetrating the
    wall and causing haematuria and the ureter being damaged due to fibrosis
    and leading to damage of the kidney, with a reasonable real chance of
    developing cancer. As the complainant was already on the wrong side of
    40 years which is a peri-menopausal age and as the appellant had
    menorrhagia which prevented her from ovulating regularly and giving her
    regular cycle necessary for pregnancy and as endometriosis prevented
    fertilization and also produced reaction in the pelvis which increased the
    lymphocytes and macrophages which destroyed the ova and sperm, there
    was no chance of appellant conceiving, even if the surgery had not been
    performed. The removal of her uterus and ovaries was proper and
    necessary and there was no negligence on the part of the respondent in
    performing the surgery. A Doctor who has acted in accordance with a
    practice accepted as proper by medical fraternity cannot be said to have
    acted negligently. In the realm of diagnosis and treatment there is ample
    scope for genuine differences of opinion and no Doctor can be said to
    have acted negligently merely because his or her opinion differs from that
    of other Doctors or because he or she has displayed lesser skill or
    knowledge when compared to others. There was thus no negligence on
    her part.

    Questions for consideration :

    13. On the contentions raised, the following questions arise for our
    consideration :
    (i) Whether informed consent of a patient is necessary for surgical
    procedure involving removal of reproductive organs? If so what is
    the nature of such consent ?

    (ii) When a patient consults a medical practitioner, whether consent
    given for diagnostic surgery, can be construed as consent for
    performing additional or further surgical procedure -- either as
    conservative treatment or as radical treatment -- without the
    specific consent for such additional or further surgery.

    (iii) Whether there was consent by the appellant, for the abdominal
    hysterectomy and Bilateral Salpingo-oopherectomy (for short AH-
    BSO) performed by the respondent?

    (iv) Whether the respondent had falsely invented a case that appellant
    was suffering from endometriosis to explain the unauthorized and
    unwarranted removal of uterus and ovaries, and whether such
    radical surgery was either to cover-up negligence in conducting
    diagnostic laparoscopy or to claim a higher fee ?

    (v) Even if appellant was suffering from endometriosis, the respondent
    ought to have resorted to conservative treatment/surgery instead of
    performing radical surgery ?

    (vi) Whether the Respondent is guilty of the tortious act of
    negligence/battery amounting to deficiency in service, and
    consequently liable to pay damages to the appellant.

    Re : Question No.(i) and (ii)

    14. Consent in the context of a doctor-patient relationship, means the
    grant of permission by the patient for an act to be carried out by the
    doctor, such as a diagnostic, surgical or therapeutic procedure. Consent
    can be implied in some circumstances from the action of the patient. For
    example, when a patient enters a Dentist's clinic and sits in the Dental
    chair, his consent is implied for examination, diagnosis and consultation.
    Except where consent can be clearly and obviously implied, there should
    be express consent. There is, however, a significant difference in the
    nature of express consent of the patient, known as 'real consent' in UK
    and as 'informed consent' in America. In UK, the elements of consent are
    defined with reference to the patient and a consent is considered to be
    valid and 'real' when (i) the patient gives it voluntarily without any
    coercion; (ii) the patient has the capacity and competence to give consent;
    and (iii) the patient has the minimum of adequate level of information
    about the nature of the procedure to which he is consenting to. On the
    other hand, the concept of 'informed consent' developed by American
    courts, while retaining the basic requirements consent, shifts the emphasis
    to the doctor's duty to disclose the necessary information to the patient to
    secure his consent. 'Informed consent' is defined in Taber's Cyclopedic
    Medical Dictionary thus :

    "Consent that is given by a person after receipt of the following
    information : the nature and purpose of the proposed procedure or
    treatment; the expected outcome and the likelihood of success; the
    risks; the alternatives to the procedure and supporting information
    regarding those alternatives; and the effect of no treatment or
    procedure, including the effect on the prognosis and the material risks
    associated with no treatment. Also included are instructions concerning
    what should be done if the procedure turns out to be harmful or

    In Canterbury v. Spence - 1972 [464] Federal Reporter 2d. 772, the
    United States Courts of appeals, District of Columbia Circuit, emphasized
    the element of Doctor's duty in 'informed consent' thus:
    "It is well established that the physician must seek and secure his
    patient's consent before commencing an operation or other course of
    treatment. It is also clear that the consent, to be efficacious, must be
    free from imposition upon the patient. It is the settled rule that therapy
    not authorized by the patient may amount to a tort - a common law
    battery - by the physician. And it is evident that it is normally
    impossible to obtain a consent worthy of the name unless the physician
    first elucidates the options and the perils for the patient's edification.
    Thus the physician has long borne a duty, on pain of liability for
    unauthorized treatment, to make adequate disclosure to the patient."

    [Emphasis supplied]

    15. The basic principle in regard to patient's consent may be traced to
    the following classic statement by Justice Cardozo in Schoendorff vs.
    Society of New York Hospital - (1914) 211 NY 125 :
    'Every human being of adult years and sound mind has a right
    to determine what should be done with his body; and a surgeon
    who performs the operation without his patient's consent,
    commits an assault for which he is liable in damages."

    This principle has been accepted by English court also. In Re : F. 1989(2)
    All ER 545, the House of Lords while dealing with a case of sterilization
    of a mental patient reiterated the fundamental principle that every
    person's body is inviolate and performance of a medical operation on a
    person without his or her consent is unlawful. The English law on this
    aspect is summarised thus in Principles of Medical Law (published by
    Oxford University Press -- Second Edition, edited by Andrew Grubb,
    Para 3.04, Page 133) :
    "Any intentional touching of a person is unlawful and amounts
    to the tort of battery unless it is justified by consent or other
    lawful authority. In medical law, this means that a doctor may
    only carry out a medical treatment or procedure which involves
    contact with a patient if there exists a valid consent by the
    patient (or another person authorized by law to consent on his
    behalf) or if the touching is permitted notwithstanding the
    absence of consent."

    16. The next question is whether in an action for negligence/battery for
    performance of an unauthorized surgical procedure, the Doctor can put
    forth as defence the consent given for a particular operative procedure, as
    consent for any additional or further operative procedures performed in
    the interests of the patient. In Murray vs. McMurchy - 1949 (2) DLR 442,
    the Supreme Court of BC, Canada, was considering a claim for battery by
    a patient who underwent a caesarian section. During the course of
    caesarian section, the doctor found fibroid tumors in the patient's uterus.
    Being of the view that such tumours would be a danger in case of future
    pregnancy, he performed a sterilization operation. The court upheld the
    claim for damages for battery. It held that sterilization could not be
    justified under the principle of necessity, as there was no immediate
    threat or danger to the patient's health or life and it would not have been
    unreasonable to postpone the operation to secure the patient's consent.
    The fact that the doctor found it convenient to perform the sterilization
    operation without consent as the patient was already under general
    anaesthetic, was held to be not a valid defence. A somewhat similar view
    was expressed by Courts of Appeal in England in Re : F. (supra). It was
    held that the additional or further treatment which can be given (outside
    the consented procedure) should be confined to only such treatment as is
    necessary to meet the emergency, and as such needs to be carried out at
    once and before the patient is likely to be in a position to make a decision
    for himself. Lord Goff observed :

    "Where, for example, a surgeon performs an operation without
    his consent on a patient temporarily rendered unconscious in an
    accident, he should do no more than is reasonably required, in
    the best interests of the patient, before he recovers
    consciousness. I can see no practical difficulty arising from this
    requirement, which derives from the fact that the patient is
    expected before long to regain consciousness and can then be
    consulted about longer term measures."

    The decision in Marshell vs. Curry - 1933 (3) DLR 260 decided by the
    Supreme Court of NS, Canada, illustrates the exception to the rule, that
    an unauthorized procedure may be justified if the patient's medical
    condition brooks no delay and warrants immediate action without
    waiting for the patient to regain consciousness and take a decision for
    himself. In that case the doctor discovered a grossly diseased testicle
    while performing a hernia operation. As the doctor considered it to be
    gangrenous, posing a threat to patient's life and health, the doctor
    removed it without consent, as a part of the hernia operation. An action
    for battery was brought on the ground that the consent was for a hernia
    operation and removal of testicle was not consent. The claim was
    dismissed. The court was of the view that the doctor can act without the
    consent of the patient where it is necessary to save the life or preserve the
    health of the patient. Thus, the principle of necessity by which the doctor
    is permitted to perform further or additional procedure (unauthorized) is
    restricted to cases where the patient is temporarily incompetent (being
    unconscious), to permit the procedure delaying of which would be
    unreasonable because of the imminent danger to the life or health of the

    17. It is quite possible that if the patient been conscious, and informed
    about the need for the additional procedure, the patient might have agreed
    to it. It may be that the additional procedure is beneficial and in the
    interests of the patient. It may be that postponement of the additional
    procedure (say removal of an organ) may require another surgery,
    whereas removal of the affected organ during the initial diagnostic or
    exploratory surgery, would save the patient from the pain and cost of a
    second operation. Howsoever practical or convenient the reasons may be,
    they are not relevant. What is relevant and of importance is the inviolable
    nature of the patient's right in regard to his body and his right to decide
    whether he should undergo the particular treatment or surgery or not.
    Therefore at the risk of repetition, we may add that unless the
    unauthorized additional or further procedure is necessary in order to save
    the life or preserve the health of the patient and it would be unreasonable
    (as contrasted from being merely inconvenient) to delay the further
    procedure until the patient regains consciousness and takes a decision, a
    doctor cannot perform such procedure without the consent of the patient.

    18. We may also refer to the code of medical ethics laid down by the
    Medical Council of India (approved by the Central Government under
    section 33 of Indian Medical Council Act, 1956). It contains a chapter
    relating to disciplinary action which enumerates a list of responsibilities,
    violation of which will be professional misconduct. Clause 13 of the said
    chapter places the following responsibility on a doctor :

    "13. Before performing an operation the physician should obtain in
    writing the consent from the husband or wife, parent or guardian in the
    case of a minor, or the patient himself as the case may be. In an
    operation which may result in sterility the consent of both husband and
    wife is needed."

    We may also refer to the following guidelines to doctors, issued by the
    General Medical Council of U.K. in seeking consent of the patient for
    investigation and treatment :

    "Patients have a right to information about their condition and the
    treatment options available to them. The amount of information you
    give each patient will vary, according to factors such as the nature of
    the condition, the complexity of the treatment, the risks associated with
    the treatment or procedure, and the patient's own wishes. For example,
    patients may need more information to make an informed decision
    about the procedure which carries a high risk of failure or adverse side
    effects; or about an investigation for a condition which, if present,
    could have serious implications for the patient's employment, social or
    personal life.

    x x x x x

    You should raise with patients the possibility of additional problems
    coming to light during a procedure when the patient is unconscious or
    otherwise unable to make a decision. You should seek consent to treat
    any problems which you think may arise and ascertain whether there
    are any procedures to which the patient would object, or prefer to give
    further thought before you proceed."

    The Consent form for Hospital admission and medical treatment, to
    which appellant's signature was obtained by the respondent on 10.5.1995,
    which can safely be presumed to constitute the contract between the
    parties, specifically states :
    "(A) It is customary, except in emergency or extraordinary
    circumstances, that no substantial procedures are performed upon a
    patient unless and until he or she has had an opportunity to discuss
    them with the physician or other health professional to the patient's

    (B) Each patient has right to consent, or to refuse consent, to any
    proposed procedure of therapeutic course."

    19. We therefore hold that in Medical Law, where a surgeon is
    consulted by a patient, and consent of the patient is taken for diagnostic
    procedure/surgery, such consent cannot be considered as authorisation or
    permission to perform therapeutic surgery either conservative or radical
    (except in life threatening or emergent situations). Similarly where the
    consent by the patient is for a particular operative surgery, it cannot be
    treated as consent for an unauthorized additional procedure involving
    removal of an organ, only on the ground that such removal is beneficial to
    the patient or is likely to prevent some danger developing in future, where
    there is no imminent danger to the life or health of the patient.

    20. We may next consider the nature of information that is required to
    be furnished by a Doctor to secure a valid or real consent. In Bowater v.
    Rowley Regis Corporation - [1944] 1 KB 476, Scott L.J. observed :
    "A man cannot be said to be truly 'willing' unless he is in a
    position to choose freely, and freedom of choice predicates, not
    only full knowledge of the circumstances on which the exercise
    of choice is conditioned, so that he may be able to choose
    wisely, but the absence from his mind of any feeling of
    constraint so that nothing shall interfere with the freedom of his

    In Salgo vs. Leland Stanford [154 Cal. App. 2d.560 (1957)], it was held
    that a physician violates his duty to his patient and subjects himself to
    liability if he withholds any facts which are necessary to form the basis of
    an intelligent consent by the patient to the proposed treatment.

    21. Canterbury (supra) explored the rationale of a Doctor's duty to
    reasonably inform a patient as to the treatment alternatives available and
    the risk incidental to them, as also the scope of the disclosure requirement
    and the physician's privileges not to disclose. It laid down the 'reasonably
    prudent patient test' which required the doctor to disclose all material
    risks to a patient, to show an 'informed consent'. It was held :
    "True consent to what happens to one's self is the informed exercise of
    a choice, and that entails an opportunity to evaluate knowledgeably the
    options available and the risks attendant upon each. The average
    patient has little or no understanding of the medical arts, and ordinarily
    has only his physician to whom he can look for enlightenment with
    which to reach an intelligent decision. From these almost axiomatic
    considerations springs the need, and in turn the requirement, of a
    reasonable divulgence by physician to patient to make such a decision

    Just as plainly, due care normally demands that the physician warn
    the patient of any risks to his well being which contemplated therapy
    may involve.

    The context in which the duty of risk-disclosure arises is invariably the
    occasion for decision as to whether a particular treatment procedure is
    to be undertaken. To the physician, whose training enables a self-
    satisfying evaluation, the answer may seem clear, but it is the
    prerogative of the patient, not the physician, to determine for himself
    the direction in which his interests seem to lie. To enable the patient to
    chart his course understandably, some familiarity with the therapeutic
    alternatives and their hazards becomes essential

    A reasonable revelation in these respects is not only a necessity but, as
    we see it, is as much a matter of the physician's duty. It is a duty to
    warn of the dangers lurking in the proposed treatment, and that is
    surely a facet of due care. It is, too, a duty to impart information which
    the patient has every right to expect. The patient's reliance upon the
    physician is a trust of the kind which traditionally has exacted
    obligations beyond those associated with arms length transactions. His
    dependence upon the physician for information affecting his well-
    being, in terms of contemplated treatment, is well-nigh abject. we
    ourselves have found "in the fiducial qualities of (the physician-
    patient) relationship the physician's duty to reveal to the patient that
    which in his best interests it is important that he should know." We
    now find, as a part of the physician's overall obligation to the patient, a
    similar duty of reasonable disclosure of the choices with respect to
    proposed therapy and the dangers inherently and potentially involve.

    In our view, the patient's right of self-decision shapes the boundaries of
    the duty to reveal. That right can be effectively exercised only if the
    patient possesses enough information to enable an intelligent choice.
    The scope of the physician's communications to the patient, then, must
    be measured by the patient's need, and that need is the information
    material to the decision. Thus the test for determining whether a
    particular peril must be divulged is its materially to the patient's
    decision : all risks potentially affecting the decision must be unmasked.

    It was further held that a risk is material 'when a reasonable person, in
    what the physician knows or should know to be the patient's position,
    would be likely to attach significance to the risk or cluster of risks in
    deciding whether or not to forego the proposed therapy'. The doctor,
    therefore, is required to communicate all inherent and potential hazards of
    the proposed treatment, the alternatives to that treatment, if any, and the
    likely effect if the patient remained untreated. This stringent standard of
    disclosure was subjected to only two exceptions : (i) where there was a
    genuine emergency, e.g. the patient was unconscious; and (ii) where the
    information would be harmful to the patient, e.g. where it might cause
    psychological damage, or where the patient would become so emotionally
    distraught as to prevent a rational decision. It, however, appears that
    several States in USA have chosen to avoid the decision in Canterbury by
    enacting legislation which severely curtails operation of the doctrine of
    informed consent.
    22. The stringent standards regarding disclosure laid down in
    Canterbury, as necessary to secure an informed consent of the patient,
    was not accepted in the English courts. In England, standard applicable is
    popularly known as the Bolam Test, first laid down in Bolam v. Friern
    Hospital Management Committee - [1957] 2 All.E.R. 118. McNair J., in a
    trial relating to negligence of a medical practitioner, while instructing the
    Jury, stated thus :

    "(i) A doctor is not negligent, if he has acted in accordance with a
    practice accepted as proper by a responsible body of medical men
    skilled in that particular art.  Putting it the other way round, a
    doctor is not negligent, if he is acting in accordance with such a
    practice, merely because there is a body of opinion that takes a
    contrary view. At the same time, that does not mean that a medical
    man can obstinately and pig-headedly carry on with some old
    technique if it has been proved to be contrary to what is really
    substantially the whole of informed medical opinion.

    (ii) When a doctor dealing with a sick man strongly believed that
    the only hope of cure was submission to a particular therapy, he could
    not be criticized if, believing the danger involved in the treatment to be
    minimal, did not stress them to the patient.

    (iii) In order to recover damages for failure to give warning the
    plaintiff must show not only that the failure was negligent but also that
    if he had been warned he would not have consented to the treatment.

    23. Hunter v. Hanley (1955 SC 200), a Scottish case is also worth
    noticing. In that decision, Lord President Clyde held :
    "In the realm of diagnosis and treatment there is ample scope for genuine
    difference of opinion and one man clearly is not negligent merely
    because his conclusion differs from that of other professional men, nor
    because he has displayed less skill or knowledge than others would have
    shown. The true test for establishing negligence in diagnosis or treatment
    on the part of a doctor is whether he has been proved to be guilty of such
    failure as no doctor of ordinary skill would be guilty of if acting with
    ordinary care."

    He also laid down the following requirements to be established by a
    patient to fasten liability on the ground of want of care or negligence on
    the part of the doctor :
    "To establish liability by a doctor where deviation from normal practice
    is alleged, three facts require to be established. First of all it must be
    proved that there is a usual and normal practice; secondly it must be
    proved that the defender has not adopted that practice; and thirdly (and
    this is of crucial importance) it must be established that the course the
    doctor adopted is one which no professional man of ordinary skill would
    have taken if he had been acting with ordinary care."

    24. In Sidaway v. Bethlem Royal Hospital Governors & Ors. [1985] 1
    All ER 643, the House of Lords, per majority, adopted the Bolam test, as
    the measure of doctor's duty to disclose information about the potential
    consequences and risks of proposed medical treatment. In that case the
    defendant, a surgeon, warned the plaintiff of the possibility of disturbing
    a nerve root while advising an operation on the spinal column to relieve
    shoulder and neck pain. He did not however mention the possibility of
    damage to the spinal cord. Though the operation was performed without
    negligence, the plaintiff sustained damage to spinal cord resulting in
    partial paralysis. The plaintiff alleged that defendant was negligent in
    failing to inform her about the said risk and that had she known the true
    position, she would not have accepted the treatment. The trial Judge and
    Court of Appeal applied the Bolam test and concluded that the defendant
    had acted in accordance with a practice accepted as proper by a
    responsible body of medical opinion, in not informing the plaintiff of the
    risk of damage to spinal cord. Consequently, the claim for damages was
    rejected. The House of Lords upheld the decision of the Court of Appeal
    that the doctrine of informed consent based on full disclosure of all the
    facts to the patient, was not the appropriate test of liability for negligence,
    under English law. The majority were of the view that the test of liability
    in respect of a doctor's duty to warn his patient of risks inherent in
    treatment recommended by him was the same as the test applicable to
    diagnosis and treatment, namely, that the doctor was required to act in
    accordance with the practice accepted at the time as proper by a
    responsible body of medical opinion. Lord Diplock stated:
    "In English jurisprudence the doctor's relationship with his patient
    which gives rise to the normal duty of care to exercise his skill and
    judgment to improve the patient's health in any particular respect in
    which the patient has sought his aid has hitherto been treated as a
    single comprehensive duty covering all the ways in which a doctor is
    called on to exercise his skill and judgment in the improvement of the
    physical or mental condition of the patient for which his services either
    as a general practitioner or as a specialist have been engaged. This
    general duty is not subject to dissection into a number of component
    parts to which different criteria of what satisfy the duty of care apply,
    such as diagnosis, treatment and advice (including warning of any risks
    of something going wrong however skillfully the treatment advised is
    carried out). The Bolam case itself embraced failure to advise the
    patient of the risk involved in the electric shock treatment as one of the
    allegations of negligence against the surgeon as well as negligence in
    the actual carrying out of treatment in which that risk did result in
    injury to the patient. The same criteria were applied to both these
    aspects of the surgeon's duty of care. In modern medicine and surgery
    such dissection of the various things a doctor has to do in the exercise
    of his whole duty of care owed to his patient is neither legally
    meaningful nor medically practicable. To decide what risks the
    existence of which a patient should be voluntarily warned and the
    terms in which such warning, if any, should be given, having regard to
    the effect that the warning may have, is as much an exercise of
    professional skill and judgment as any other part of the doctor's
    comprehensive duty of care to the individual patient, and expert
    medical evidence on this matter should be treated in just the same way.
    The Bolam test should be applied."

    Lord Bridge stated :

    "I recognize the logical force of the Canterbury doctrine, proceeding
    from the premise that the patient's right to make his own decision must
    at all costs be safeguarded against the kind of medical paternalism
    which assumes that 'doctor knows best'. But, with all respect, I regard
    the doctrine as quite impractical in application for three principal
    reasons. First, it gives insufficient weight to the realities of the
    doctor/patient relationship. A very wide variety of factors must enter
    into a doctor's clinical judgment not only as to what treatment is
    appropriate for a particular patient, but also as to how best to
    communicate to the patient the significant factors necessary to enable
    the patient to make an informed decision whether to undergo the
    treatment. The doctor cannot set out to educate the patient to his own
    standard of medical knowledge of all the relevant factors involved. He
    may take the view, certainly with some patients, that the very fact of
    his volunteering, without being asked, information of some remote risk
    involved in the treatment proposed, even though he described it as
    remote, may lead to that risk assuming an undue significance in the
    patient's calculations. Second, it would seem to me quite unrealistic in
    any medical negligence action to confine the expert medical evidence
    to an explanation of the primary medical factors involved and to deny
    the court the benefit of evidence of medical opinion and practice on the
    particular issue of disclosure which is under consideration. Third, the
    objective test which Canterbury propounds seems to me to be so
    imprecise as to be almost meaningless. If it is to be left to individual
    judges to decide for themselves what "a reasonable person in the
    patient's position' would consider a risk of sufficient significance that
    he should be told about it, the outcome of litigation in this field is
    likely to be quite unpredictable."

    Lord Bridge however made it clear that when questioned specifically by
    the patient about the risks involved in a particular treatment proposed, the
    doctor's duty is to answer truthfully and as fully as the questioner
    requires. He further held that remote risk of damage (referred to as risk at
    1 or 2%) need not be disclosed but if the risk of damage is substantial
    (referred to as 10% risk), it may have to be disclosed. Lord Scarman, in
    minority, was inclined to adopt the more stringent test laid down in

    25. In India, Bolam test has broadly been accepted as the general rule.
    We may refer three cases of this Court. In Achutrao Haribhau Khodwa
    vs. State of Maharastra - 1996 (2) SCC 634, this Court held :
    "The skill of medical practitioners differs from doctor to doctor. The
    nature of the profession is such that there may be more than one course
    of treatment which may be advisable for treating a patient. Courts
    would indeed be slow in attributing negligence on the part of a doctor
    if he has performed his duties to the best of his ability and with due
    care and caution. Medical opinion may differ with regard to the course
    of action to be taken by a doctor treating a patient, but as long as a
    doctor acts in a manner which is acceptable to the medical profession
    and the Court finds that he has attended on the patient with due care
    skill and diligence and if the patient still does not survive or suffers a
    permanent ailment, it would be difficult to hold the doctor to be guilty
    of negligence..In cases where the doctors act carelessly and in a
    manner which is not expected of a medical practitioner, then in such a
    case an action in torts would be maintainable."

    In Vinitha Ashok vs. Lakshmi Hospital - 2001 (8) SCC 731, this Court
    after referring to Bolam, Sidaway and Achutrao, clarified:
    "A doctor will be liable for negligence in respect of diagnosis and
    treatment in spite of a body of professional opinion approving his
    conduct where it has not been established to the court's satisfaction that
    such opinion relied on is reasonable or responsible. If it can be
    demonstrated that the professional opinion is not capable of
    withstanding the logical analysis, the court would be entitled to hold
    that the body of opinion is not reasonable or responsible.

    In Indian Medical Association vs. V. P. Shantha - 1995 (6) SCC 651, this
    Court held :
    "The approach of the courts is to require that professional men should
    possess a certain minimum degree of competence and that they should
    exercise reasonable care in the discharge of their duties. In general, a
    professional man owes to his client a duty in tort as well as in contract
    to exercise reasonable care in giving advice or performing services".

    Neither Achutrao nor Vinitha Ashok referred to the American view
    expressed in Canterbury.

    26. In India, majority of citizens requiring medical care and treatment
    fall below the poverty line. Most of them are illiterate or semi-literate.
    They cannot comprehend medical terms, concepts, and treatment
    procedures. They cannot understand the functions of various organs or
    the effect of removal of such organs. They do not have access to effective
    but costly diagnostic procedures. Poor patients lying in the corridors of
    hospitals after admission for want of beds or patients waiting for days on
    the roadside for an admission or a mere examination, is a common sight.
    For them, any treatment with reference to rough and ready diagnosis
    based on their outward symptoms and doctor's experience or intuition is
    acceptable and welcome so long as it is free or cheap; and whatever the
    doctor decides as being in their interest, is usually unquestioningly
    accepted. They are a passive, ignorant and uninvolved in treatment
    procedures. The poor and needy face a hostile medical environment -
    inadequacy in the number of hospitals and beds, non-availability of
    adequate treatment facilities, utter lack of qualitative treatment,
    corruption, callousness and apathy. Many poor patients with serious
    ailments (eg. heart patients and cancer patients) have to wait for months
    for their turn even for diagnosis, and due to limited treatment facilities,
    many die even before their turn comes for treatment. What choice do
    these poor patients have? Any treatment of whatever degree, is a boon or
    a favour, for them. The stark reality is that for a vast majority in the
    country, the concepts of informed consent or any form of consent, and
    choice in treatment, have no meaning or relevance.

    The position of doctors in Government and charitable hospitals, who treat
    them, is also unenviable. They are overworked, understaffed, with little or
    no diagnostic or surgical facilities and limited choice of medicines and
    treatment procedures. They have to improvise with virtual non-existent
    facilities and limited dubious medicines. They are required to be
    committed, service oriented and non-commercial in outlook. What choice
    of treatment can these doctors give to the poor patients? What informed
    consent they can take from them?

    27. On the other hand, we have the Doctors, hospitals, nursing homes
    and clinics in the private commercial sector. There is a general perception
    among the middle class public that these private hospitals and doctors
    prescribe avoidable costly diagnostic procedures and medicines, and
    subject them to unwanted surgical procedures, for financial gain. The
    public feel that many doctors who have spent a crore or more for
    becoming a specialist, or nursing homes which have invested several
    crores on diagnostic and infrastructure facilities, would necessarily
    operate with a purely commercial and not service motive; that such
    doctors and hospitals would advise extensive costly treatment procedures
    and surgeries, where conservative or simple treatment may meet the need;
    and that what used to be a noble service oriented profession is slowly but
    steadily converting into a purely business.

    28. But unfortunately not all doctors in government hospitals are
    paragons of service, nor fortunately, all private hospitals/doctors are
    commercial minded. There are many a doctor in government hospitals
    who do not care about patients and unscrupulously insist upon 'unofficial'
    payment for free treatment or insist upon private consultations. On the
    other hand, many private hospitals and Doctors give the best of treatment
    without exploitation, at a reasonable cost, charging a fee, which is
    resonable recompense for the service rendered. Of course, some doctors,
    both in private practice or in government service, look at patients not as
    persons who should be relieved from pain and suffering by prompt and
    proper treatment at an affordable cost, but as potential income-providers/
    customers who can be exploited by prolonged or radical diagnostic and
    treatment procedures. It is this minority who bring a bad name to the
    entire profession.

    29. Health care (like education) can thrive in the hands of charitable
    institutions. It also requires more serious attention from the State. In a
    developing country like ours where teeming millions of poor,
    downtrodden and illiterate cry out for health-care, there is a desperate
    need for making health-care easily accessible and affordable.
    Remarkable developments in the field of medicine might have
    revolutionalized health care. But they cannot be afforded by the common
    man. The woes of non-affording patients have in no way decreased.
    Gone are the days when any patient could go to a neighbourhood general
    practitioner or a family doctor and get affordable treatment at a very
    reasonable cost, with affection, care and concern. Their noble tribe is
    dwindling. Every Doctor wants to be a specialist. The proliferation of
    specialists and super specialists, have exhausted many a patient both
    financially and physically, by having to move from doctor to doctor, in
    search of the appropriate specialist who can identify the problem and
    provide treatment. What used to be competent treatment by one General
    Practitioner has now become multi-pronged treatment by several
    specialists. Law stepping in to provide remedy for negligence or
    deficiency in service by medical practioners, has its own twin adverse
    effects. More and more private doctors and hospitals have, of necessity,
    started playing it safe, by subjecting or requiring the patients to undergo
    various costly diagnostic procedures and tests to avoid any allegations of
    negligence, even though they might have already identified the ailment
    with reference to the symptoms and medical history with 90% certainly,
    by their knowledge and experience. Secondly more and more doctors
    particularly surgeons in private practice are forced to cover themselves
    by taking out insurance, the cost of which is also ultimately passed on to
    the patient, by way of a higher fee. As a consequence, it is now common
    that a comparatively simple ailment, which earlier used to be treated at
    the cost of a few rupees by consulting a single doctor, requires an
    expense of several hundred or thousands on account of four factors : (i)
    commercialization of medical treatment; (ii) increase in specialists as
    contrasted from general practitioners and the need for consulting more
    than one doctor; (iii) varied diagnostic and treatment procedures at high
    cost; and (iv) need for doctors to have insurance cover. The obvious,
    may be naove, answer to unwarranted diagnostic procedures and
    treatment and prohibitive cost of treatment, is an increase in the
    participation of health care by the state and charitable institutions. An
    enlightened and committed medical profession can also provide a better
    alternative. Be that as it may. We are not trying to intrude on matters of
    policy, nor are we against proper diagnosis or specialisation. We are only
    worried about the enormous hardship and expense to which the common
    man is subjected, and are merely voicing the concern of those who are
    not able to fend for themselves. We will be too happy if what we have
    observed is an overstatement, but our intuition tells us that it is an

    30. What we are considering in this case, is not the duties or
    obligations of doctors in government charitable hospitals where treatment
    is free or on actual cost basis. We are concerned with doctors in private
    practice and hospitals and nursing homes run commercially, where the
    relationship of doctors and patients are contractual in origin, the service is
    in consideration of a fee paid by the patient, where the contract implies
    that the professional men possessing a minimum degree of competence
    would exercise reasonable care in the discharge of their duties while
    giving advice or treatment.

    31. There is a need to keep the cost of treatment within affordable
    limits. Bringing in the American concepts and standards of treatment
    procedures and disclosure of risks, consequences and choices will
    inevitably bring in higher cost-structure of American medical care.
    Patients in India cannot afford them. People in India still have great
    regard and respect for Doctors. The Members of medical profession have
    also, by and large, shown care and concern for the patients. There is an
    atmosphere of trust and implicit faith in the advice given by the Doctor.
    The India psyche rarely questions or challenges the medical advice.
    Having regard to the conditions obtaining in India, as also the settled and
    recognized practices of medical fraternity in India, we are of the view that
    to nurture the doctor-patient relationship on the basis of trust, the extent
    and nature of information required to be given by doctors should continue
    to be governed by the Bolam test rather than the 'reasonably prudential
    patient' test evolved in Canterbury. It is for the doctor to decide, with
    reference to the condition of the patient, nature of illness, and the
    prevailing established practices, how much information regarding risks
    and consequences should be given to the patients, and how they should be
    couched, having the best interests of the patient. A doctor cannot be held
    negligent either in regard to diagnosis or treatment or in disclosing the
    risks involved in a particular surgical procedure or treatment, if the doctor
    has acted with normal care, in accordance with a recognised practices
    accepted as proper by a responsible body of medical men skilled in that
    particular field, even though there may be a body of opinion that takes a
    contrary view. Where there are more than one recognized school of
    established medical practice, it is not negligence for a doctor to follow
    any one of those practices, in preference to the others.

    32. We may now summarize principles relating to consent as follows :

    (i) A doctor has to seek and secure the consent of the patient before
    commencing a 'treatment' (the term 'treatment' includes surgery
    also). The consent so obtained should be real and valid, which
    means that : the patient should have the capacity and competence
    to consent; his consent should be voluntary; and his consent should
    be on the basis of adequate information concerning the nature of
    the treatment procedure, so that he knows what is consenting to.

    (ii) The 'adequate information' to be furnished by the doctor (or a
    member of his team) who treats the patient, should enable the
    patient to make a balanced judgment as to whether he should
    submit himself to the particular treatment as to whether he should
    submit himself to the particular treatment or not. This means that
    the Doctor should disclose (a) nature and procedure of the
    treatment and its purpose, benefits and effect; (b) alternatives if any
    available; (c) an outline of the substantial risks; and (d) adverse
    consequences of refusing treatment. But there is no need to explain
    remote or theoretical risks involved, which may frighten or confuse
    a patient and result in refusal of consent for the necessary
    treatment. Similarly, there is no need to explain the remote or
    theoretical risks of refusal to take treatment which may persuade a
    patient to undergo a fanciful or unnecessary treatment. A balance
    should be achieved between the need for disclosing necessary and
    adequate information and at the same time avoid the possibility of
    the patient being deterred from agreeing to a necessary treatment or
    offering to undergo an unnecessary treatment.

    (iii) Consent given only for a diagnostic procedure, cannot be
    considered as consent for therapeutic treatment. Consent given for
    a specific treatment procedure will not be valid for conducting
    some other treatment procedure. The fact that the unauthorized
    additional surgery is beneficial to the patient, or that it would save
    considerable time and expense to the patient, or would relieve the
    patient from pain and suffering in future, are not grounds of
    defence in an action in tort for negligence or assault and battery.
    The only exception to this rule is where the additional procedure
    though unauthorized, is necessary in order to save the life or
    preserve the health of the patient and it would be unreasonable to
    delay such unauthorized procedure until patient regains
    consciousness and takes a decision.

    (iv) There can be a common consent for diagnostic and operative
    procedures where they are contemplated. There can also be a
    common consent for a particular surgical procedure and an
    additional or further procedure that may become necessary during
    the course of surgery.

    (v) The nature and extent of information to be furnished by the doctor
    to the patient to secure the consent need not be of the stringent and
    high degree mentioned in Canterbury but should be of the extent
    which is accepted as normal and proper by a body of medical men
    skilled and experienced in the particular field. It will depend upon
    the physical and mental condition of the patient, the nature of
    treatment, and the risk and consequences attached to the treatment.

    33. We may note here that courts in Canada and Australia have moved
    towards Canterbury standard of disclosure and informed consent - vide
    Reibl v. Hughes (1980) 114 DLR (3d.) 1 decided by the Canadian
    Supreme Court and Rogers v. Whittaker - 1992 (109) ALR 625 decided
    by the High Court of Australia. Even in England there is a tendency to
    make the doctor's duty to inform more stringent than Bolam's test adopted
    in Sidaway. Lord Scarman's minority view in Sidaway favouring
    Canterbury, in course of time, may ultimately become the law in
    England. A beginning has been made in Bolitho v. City and Hackney HA
    - 1998 1 AC 232 and Pearce v. United Bristol Healthcare NHS Trust
    1998 (48) BMLR 118. We have however, consciously preferred the 'real
    consent' concept evolved in Bolam and Sidaway in preference to the

    'reasonably prudent patient test' in Canterbury, having regard to the
    ground realities in medical and health-care in India. But if medical
    practitioners and private hospitals become more and more
    commercialized, and if there is a corresponding increase in the awareness
    of patient's rights among the public, inevitably, a day may come when we
    may have to move towards Canterbury. But not for the present.

    Re : Question No.(iii)

    34. 'Gynaecology' (second edition) edited by Robert W. Shah,
    describes 'real consent' with reference to Gynaecologists (page 867 et
    seq) as follows :

    "An increasingly important risk area for all doctors is the question of
    consent. No-one may lay hands on another against their will without
    running the risk of criminal prosecution for assault and, if injury
    results, a civil action for damages for trespass or negligence. In the
    case of a doctor, consent to any physical interference will readily be
    implied; a woman must be assumed to consent to a normal physical
    examination if she consults a gynaecologist, in the absence of clear
    evidence of her refusal or restriction of such examination. The
    problems arise when the gynaecologist's intervention results in
    unfortunate side effects or permanent interference with a function,
    whether or not any part of the body is removed. For example, if the
    gynaecologist agrees with the patient to perform a hysterectomy and
    removes the ovaries without her specific consent, that will be a
    trespass and an act of negligence. The only available defence will be
    that it was necessary for the life of the patient to proceed at once to
    remove the ovaries because of some perceived pathology in them.

    What is meant by consent? The term 'informed consent' is often used,
    but there is no such concept in English law. The consent must be real :
    that is to say, the patient must have been given sufficient information
    for her to understand the nature of the operation, its likely effects, and
    any complications which may arise and which the surgeon in the
    exercise of his duty to the patient considers she should be made aware
    of; only then can she reach a proper decision. But the surgeon need not
    warn the patient of remote risks, any more than an anaesthetist need
    warn the patient that a certain small number of those anaesthetized will
    suffer cardiac arrest or never recover consciousness. Only where there
    is a recognized risk, rather than a rare complication, is the surgeon
    under an obligation to warn the patient of that risk. He is not under a
    duty to warn the patient of the possible results of hypothetical
    negligent surgery. ..

    In advising an operation, therefore, the doctor must do so in the way in
    which a competent gynaecologist exercising reasonable skill and care
    in similar circumstances would have done. In doing this he will take
    into account the personality of the patient and the importance of the
    operation to her future well being. It may be good practice not to warn
    a very nervous patient of any possible complications if she requires
    immediate surgery for, say, a malignant condition. The doctor must
    decide how much to say to her taking into account his assessment of
    her personality, the questions she asks and his view of how much she
    understands. If the patient asks a direct question, she must be given a
    truthful answer.  To take the example of hysterectomy : although the
    surgeon will tell the patient that it is proposed to remove her uterus and
    perhaps her ovaries, and describe what that will mean for her future
    well being (sterility, premature menopause), she will not be warned of
    the possibility of damage to the ureter, vesicovaginal fistula, fatal
    haemorrhage or anaesthetic death."

    35. The specific case of the appellant was that she got herself admitted
    on 10.5.1995 only for a diagnostic laparoscopy; that she was not
    informed either on 9th or 10th that she was suffering from endometriosis
    or that her reproductive organs had to be removed to cure her from the
    said disease; that her consent was not obtained for the removal of her
    reproductive organs; and that when she was under general anaesthesia for
    diagnostic laparoscopy, respondent came out of the operation theatre and
    informed her aged mother that the patient was bleeding profusely which
    might endanger her life and hysterectomy was the only option to save her
    life, and took her consent.

    36. The respondent on the other hand contends that on the basis of
    clinical and ultra sound examination on 9.5.1995, she had made a
    provisional diagnosis of endometriosis; that on same day, she informed
    the complainant and her mother separately, that she would do a diagnostic
    laparoscopy on the next day and if the endometric lesion was found to be
    mild or moderate, she will adopt a conservative treatment by operative
    laparoscopy, but if the lesion was extensive then considering her age and
    extent of lesion and likelihood of destruction of the functions of the tube,
    a laparotomy would be done; that the appellant was admitted to the
    hospital for diagnostic and operative laparoscopy and laparotomy and
    appellant's consent was obtained for such procedures; that the decision to
    operate and remove the uterus and ovaries was not sudden, nor on
    account of any emergent situation developing during laproscopy; and
    that the radical surgery was authorized, as it was preceded by a valid
    consent. She also contends that as the appellant wanted a permanent cure,
    the decision to conduct a hysterectomy was medically correct and the
    surgical procedure in fact cured the appellant and saved her intestines,
    bladder and ureter being damaged due to extension of the lesion. She had
    also tried to justify the surgical removal of the uterus and ovaries, with
    reference to the age and medical condition of the complainant.

    37. The summery of the surgical procedure (dictated by respondent and
    handwritten by her assistant Dr. Lata Rangan) furnished to the appellant
    also confirms that no emergency or life threatening situation developed
    during laparoscopy. This is reiterated in the evidence of respondent and
    Dr. Lata Rangan. In her affidavit dated 16.2.2002 filed by way of
    examination-in-chief, the respondent stated :
    "15. The laproscopic examination revealed a frozen pelvis and
    considering the extent of the lesion it was decided that conservative
    surgery was not advisable and the nature of the problem required for its
    cure hysterectomy.

    16. When the Deponent decided to perform hysterectomy she told
    Dr. Lata to intimate the mother of Ms. Samira Kohli of the fact that
    hysterectomy was going to be performed on her. No complications had
    arisen in the operation theatre and the procedure being performed was
    in terms of the consent given by Ms. Samira Kohli herself."

    In her affidavit dated 16.2.2002 filed by way of examination-in-chief, Dr.
    Lata Rangan stated:
    "14. I was in the Operation Theatre alongwith Dr. Prabha
    Manchanda. The laproscopic examination revealed a frozen pelvis and
    considering the extent of the lesion it was decided that conservative
    surgery was not possible and that the nature of the problem required
    performance of hysterectomy.

    15. When it was decided to perform hysterectomy the deponent
    was told by Dr. Prabha Manchanda to intimate the mother of Ms.
    Samira Kohli of the fact that hysterectomy was now going to be
    performed on her. No complications had arisen in the Operation
    Theatre and the procedure conducted therein was in terms of the
    consent given by Ms. Samira Kohli herself. I got the mother to sign the
    Form too so that the factum of intimation was duly documented."

    Thus, the respondent's definite case is that on 9.5.1995, the respondent
    had provisionally diagnosed endometriosis and informed the appellant;
    that appellant had agreed that hysterectomy may be performed if the
    lesion was extensive; and that in pursuance of such consent, reiterated in
    writing by the appellant in the consent form on 10.5.1995, she performed
    the AH-BSO removing the uterus and ovaries on finding extensive
    endometriosis. In other words, according to respondent, the abdominal
    hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oopherectomy (AH-BSO) was not
    necessitated on account of any emergency or life threatening situation
    developing or being discovered when laparoscopic test was conducted,
    but according to an agreed plan, consented by the appellant and her
    mother on 9.5.1995 itself, reiterated in writing on 10.5.1995. Therefore
    the defence of respondent is one based on specific consent. Let us
    therefore examine whether there was consent.

    38. The Admission and Discharge card maintained and produced by
    the respondent showed that the appellant was admitted "for diagnostic
    and (?)operative laparoscopy on 10.5.1995". The OPD card dated
    9.5.1995 does not refer to endometriosis, which is also admitted by the
    respondent in her cross-examination. If fact, the respondent also admitted
    that the confirmation of diagnosis is possible only after laparoscopy test :
    "On clinical and ultrasound examination a diagnosis can be made to
    some extent. But precise diagnosis will have to be on laparoscopy."

    The consent form dated 10.5.1995 signed by the appellant states that
    appellant has been informed that the treatment to be undertaken is
    "diagnostic and operative laparoscopy. Laparotomy may be needed." The
    case summary dictated by respondent and written by Dr. Lata Rangan
    also clearly says "admitted for Hysteroscopy, diagnostic laparoscopy and
    operative laparoscopy on 10.5.1995." (Note : Hysteroscopy is inspection
    of uterus by special endoscope and laproscopy is abdominal exploration
    by special endoscope.)

    39. In this context, we may also refer to a notice dated 5.6.1995 issued
    by respondent to the appellant through counsel, demanding payment of
    Rs.39,325/- towards the bill amount. Paras 1, 3, and 4 are relevant which
    are extracted below :

    "1. You were admitted to our clinic Dr. Manchanda, No.7, Ring
    Road, Lajpat Nagar, New Delhi for diagnostic and operative
    laparoscopy and Endometrial biopsy on 10.5.1995." ..

    "3. The findings of laparoscopy were : a very extensive lesion of
    the endometriosis with pools of blood, extensive adherence involving
    the tubes of the uterus and ovaries, a chocolate cyst in the right ovary
    and areas of endometriosis on the surface of the left ovary but no cyst."

    "4. The findings were duly conveyed to Ms. Somi Kohli who was
    also shown a video recording of the lesion. You and Mrs. Somi Kohli
    were informed that conservative surgery would be futile and removal
    of the uterus and more extensive surgery, considering your age and
    extensive lesion and destruction of the functions of the tubes, was

    This also makes it clear that the appellant was not admitted for
    conducting hysterectomy or bilateral salpingo-oopherectomy, but only for
    diagnostic purposes. We may, however, refer to a wrong statement of fact
    made in the said notice. It states that on 10.5.1995 after conducting a
    laparoscopic examination, the video-recording of the lesion was shown to
    appellant's mother, and the respondent informed the appellant and her
    mother that conservative surgery would be futile and removal of uterus
    and more extensive surgery was preferable having regard to the more
    extensive lesion and destruction of the function of the tubes. But this
    statement cannot be true. The extensive nature of lesion and destruction
    of the functions obviously became evident only after diagnostic
    laparoscopy. But after diagnostic laparoscopy and the video recording of
    the Lesion, there was no occasion for respondent to inform anything to
    appellant. When the laparoscopy and video recording was made, the
    appellant was already unconscious. Before she regained consciousness,
    AH-BSO was performed removing her uterus and ovaries. Therefore, the
    appellant could not have been informed on 10.5.1995 that conservative
    surgery would be futile and removal of uterus and extensive surgery was
    preferable in view of the extensive lesion and destruction of the function
    of the tubes did not arise.

    40. The admission card makes it clear that the appellant was admitted
    only for diagnostic and operative laparoscopy. It does not refer to
    laparotomy. The consent form shows that the appellant gave consent only
    for diagnostic operative laparoscopy, and laparotomy if needed.
    Laparotomy is a surgical procedure to open up the abdomen or an
    abdominal operation. It refers to the operation performed to examine the
    abdominal organs and aid diagnosis. Many a time, after the diagnosis is
    made and the problem is identified it may be fixed during the laparotomy
    itself. In other cases, a subsequent surgery may be required. Laparotomy
    can no doubt be either a diagnostic or therapeutic. In the former, more
    often referred to as the exploratory laparotomy, an exercise is undertaken
    to identify the nature of the disease. In the latter, a therapeutic laparatomy
    is conducted after the cause has been identified. When a specific
    operation say hysterectomy or salpingo-oopherectomy is planned,
    laparotomy is merely the first step of the procedure, followed by the
    actual specific operation, namely hysterectomy or salpingo-
    oopherectomy. Depending upon the incision placement, laparotomy gives
    access to any abdominal organ or space and is the first step in any major
    diagnostic or therapeutic surgical procedure involving a) the lower port of
    the digestive tract, b) liver, pancreas and spine, c) bladder, d) female
    reproductive organs and e) retroperitonium. On the other hand,
    hysterectomy and slapingo-oopherectomy follow laparotomy and are not
    themselves referred to as laparotomy. Therefore, when the consent form
    refers to diagnostic and operative laparoscopy and "laparotomy if
    needed", it refers to a consent for a definite laparoscopy with a contingent
    laparotomy if needed. It does not amount to consent for OH-BSO surgery
    removing the uterus and ovaries/fallopian tubes. If the appellant had
    consented for a OH-BSO then the consent form would have given
    consent for "diagnostic and operative laparoscopy. Laparotomy,
    hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oopherectomy, if needed."

    41. On the documentary evidence and the histopathology report the
    appellant also raised an issue as to whether appellant was suffering from
    endometriosis at all. She points out that ultra-sound did not disclose
    endometriosis and the histopathology report does not confirm
    endometriosis. The respective experts examined on either side have
    expressed divergent views as to whether appellant was suffering from
    endometriosis. It may not be necessary to give a definite finding on this
    aspect, as the real question for consideration is whether appellant gave
    consent for hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oopherectomy and not
    whether appellant was suffering from endometriosis. Similarly there is
    divergence of expert opinion as to whether removal of uterus and ovaries
    was the standard or recognized remedy even if there was endometriosis
    and whether conservative treatment was an alternative. Here again it is
    not necessary to record any finding as to which is the proper remedy. It is
    sufficient to note that there are different modes of treatment favoured by
    different schools of thought among Gynaecologists.

    42. Respondent contended that the term 'laparotomy' is used in the
    consent form (by her assistant Dr. Lata Rangan) is equal to or same as
    hysterectomy. The respondent's contention that 'Laparotomy' refers to and
    includes hystectomy and bilateral salpingo-oopherectomy cannot be
    accepted. The following clear evidence of appellant's expert witness --
    Dr. Puneet Bedi (CW 1) is not challenged in cross examination :
    "Laparotomy is opening up of the abdomen which is quite different
    from hysterectomy. Hysterectomy is a procedure which involves
    surgical removal of uterus. The two procedures are totally different and
    consent for each procedure has to be obtained separately."

    On the other hand, the evidence of respondent's expert witness (Dr. Sudha
    Salhan) on this question is evasive and clearly implies laparotomy is not
    the same as hysterectomy. The relevant portion of her evidence is
    extracted below :

    "Q. As per which medical authority, laparotomy is equal to

    Ans. Consent for laparotomy permits undertaking for such surgical
    procedure necessary to treat medical conditions including

    Q. I put it to you that the medical practice is to take specific consent
    for hysterectomy.

    Ans. Whenever we do hysterectomy only, specific consent is

    43. Medical texts and authorities clearly spell out that Laparotomy is at
    best the initial step that is necessary for performing hysterectomy or
    salpingo-oopherectomy. Laparotomy by itself is not hysterectomy or
    salpingo-oopherectomy. Nor does 'hysterectomy' include salpingo-
    oopherectomy, in the case of woman who has not attained menopause.
    Laparotomy does not refer to surgical removal of any vital or
    reproductive organs. Laparotomy is usually exploratory and once the
    internal organs are exposed and examined and the disease or ailment is
    diagnosed, the problem may be addressed and fixed during the course of
    such laparotomy (as for example, removal of cysts and fulguration of
    endometric area as stated by respondent herself as a conservative form of
    treatment). But Laparotomy is never understood as referring to removal
    of any organ. In medical circles, it is well recognized that a catch all
    clause giving the surgeon permission to do anything necessary does not
    give roving authority to remove whatever he fancies may be for the good
    of the patient. For example, a surgeon cannot construe a consent to
    termination of pregnancy as a consent to sterilize the patient.

    44. When the oral and documentary evidence is considered in the light
    of the legal position discussed above while answering questions (i) and
    (ii), it is clear that there was no consent by the appellant for conducting
    hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oopherectomy.

    45. The Respondent next contended that the consent given by the
    appellant's mother for performing hysterectomy should be considered as
    valid consent for performing hysterectomy and salpingo-oopherectomy.
    The appellant was neither a minor, nor mentally challenged, nor
    incapacitated. When a patient is a competent adult, there is no question of
    someone else giving consent on her behalf. There was no medical
    emergency during surgery. The appellant was only temporarily
    unconscious, undergoing only a diagnostic procedure by way of
    laparoscopy. The respondent ought to have waited till the appellant
    regained consciousness, discussed the result of the laparoscopic
    examination and then taken her consent for the removal of her uterus and
    ovaries. In the absence of an emergency and as the matter was still at the
    stage of diagnosis, the question of taking her mother's consent for radical
    surgery did not arise. Therefore, such consent by mother cannot be
    treated as valid or real consent. Further a consent for hysterectomy, is not
    a consent for bilateral salpingo - ooperectomy.

    46. There is another facet of the consent given by the appellant's
    mother which requires to be noticed. The respondent's specific case is that
    the appellant had agreed for the surgical removal of uterus and ovaries
    depending upon the extent of the lesion. It is also her specific case that
    the consent by signing the consent form on 10.5.1995 wherein the
    treatment is mentioned as "diagnostic and operative laparoscopy.
    Laparotomy may be needed." includes the AH-BSO surgery for removal
    of uterus and ovaries. If the term 'laparotomy' is to include hysterectomy
    and salpingo-oopherectomy as contended by the respondent and there
    was a specific consent by the appellant in the consent form signed by her
    on 10.5.1995, there was absolutely no need for the respondent to send
    word through her assistant Dr. Lata Rangan to get the consent of
    appellant's mother for performing hysterectomy under general anesthesia.
    The very fact that such consent was sought from appellant's mother for
    conducting hysterectomy is a clear indication that there was no prior
    consent for hysterectomy by the appellant.

    47. We may, therefore, summarize the factual position thus :

    (i) On 9.5.1995 there was no confirmed diagnosis of endometriosis.
    The OPD slip does not refer to a provisional diagnosis of
    endometriosis on the basis of personal examination. Though there
    is a detailed reference to the findings of ultrasound in the entry
    relating to 9.5.1995 in the OPD slip, there is no reference to
    endometriosis which shows that ultrasound report did not show
    endometriosis. In fact, ultra-sound may disclose fibroids, chocolate
    cyst or other abnormality which may indicate endometriosis, but
    cannot by itself lead to a diagnosis of endometriosis. This is
    evident from the evidence of CW1, RW1 and RW2 and recognized
    text books. In fact respondent's expert Dr. Sudha Salhan admits in
    her cross examination that endometriosis can only be suspected but
    not diagnosed by ultrasound and it can be confirmed only by
    laparoscopy. Even according to respondent, endometriosis was
    confirmed only by laparoscopy. [Books on "Gynaecology' clearly
    state : "The best means to diagnose endometriosis is by direct
    visualization at laparoscopy or laparotomy, with histological
    confirmation where uncertainty persists."] Therefore the claim of
    respondent that she had discussed in detail about endometriosis and
    the treatment on 9.5.1995 on the basis of her personal examination
    and ultra-sound report appears to be doubtful.

    (ii) The appellant was admitted only for diagnostic laparoscopy (and at
    best for limited surgical treatment that could be made by
    laproscopy). She was not admitted for hysterectomy or bilateral

    (iii) There was no consent by appellant for hysterectomy or bilateral
    salpingo-oopherectomy. The words "Laparotomy may be needed"
    in the consent form dated 10.5.1995 can only refer to therapeutic
    procedures which are conservative in nature (as for example
    removal of chocolate cyst and fulguration of endometric areas, as
    stated by respondent herself as a choice of treatment), and not
    radical surgery involving removal of important organs.

    48. We find that the Commission has, without any legal basis,
    concluded that "the informed choice has to be left to the operating
    surgeon depending on his/her discretion, after assessing the damage to the
    internal organs, but subject to his/her exercising care and caution". It also
    erred in construing the words "such medical treatment as is considered
    necessary for me for." in the consent form as including surgical
    treatment by way of removal or uterus and ovaries. The Commission has
    also observed : "whether the uterus should have been removed or not or
    some other surgical procedure should have been followed are matters to
    be left to the discretion of the performing surgeon, as long as the surgeon
    does the work with adequate care and caution". This proceeds on the
    erroneous assumption that where the surgeon has shown adequate care
    and caution in performing the surgery, the consent of the patient for
    removal of an organ is unnecessary. The Commission failed to notice that
    the question was not about the correctness of the decision to remove the
    uterus and ovaries, but the failure to obtain the consent for removal of
    those important organs. There was a also faint attempt on the part of the
    respondent's counsel to contend that what were removed were not 'vital'
    organs and having regard to the advanced age of the appellant, as
    procreation was not possible, uterus and ovaries were virtually redundant
    organs. The appellant's counsel seriously disputes the position and
    contends that procreation was possible even at the age of 44 years.
    Suffice it to say that for a woman who has not married and not yet
    reached menopause, the reproductive organs are certainly important
    organs. There is also no dispute that removal of ovaries leads to abrupt
    menopause causing hormonal imbalance and consequential adverse

    Re : Question Nos.(iv) and (v) :

    49. The case of the appellant is that she was not suffering from
    endometriosis and therefore, there was no need to remove the uterus and
    ovaries. In this behalf, she examined Dr. Puneet Bedi (Obstetrician and
    Gynaecologist) who gave hormone therapy to appellant for about two
    years prior to his examination in 2002. He stated that the best method to
    diagnose endometriosis is diagnostic laparoscopy; that the presence of
    endometrial tissue anywhere outside the uterus is called Endometriosis;
    that the Histopathology report did not confirm endometriosis in the case
    of appellant; and that the mode of treatment for endometriosis would
    depend on the existing extent of the disease. He also stated that removal
    of uterus results in abrupt menopause. In natural menopause, which is a
    slow process, the body gets time to acclimatize to the low level of
    hormones gradually. On the other hand when the ovaries are removed,
    there is an abrupt stoppage of natural hormones and therefore Hormone
    Replacement Therapy is necessary to make up the loss of natural
    hormones. Hormone Replacement Therapy is also given even when there
    is a natural menopause. But hormone replacement therapy has side effects
    and complications. He also stated that on the basis of materials available
    on the file, he was of the view that Hysterectomy was not called for
    immediately. But if endometriosis had been proven from history and
    following diagnostic laparoscopy, hysterectomy could be considered as a
    last resort if all other medical methods failed. What is relevant from the
    evidence of Dr. Puneet Bedi, is that he does not say that hysterectomy is
    not the remedy for endometriosis, but only that it is a procedure that has
    to be considered as a last resort.

    50. On the other hand, the respondent who is herself a experienced
    Obstetrician and Gynaecologist has given detailed evidence, giving the
    reasons for diagnosing the problem of appellant as endometriosis and has
    referred to in detail, the need for the surgery. She stated that having
    regard to the medical condition of complainant, her decision to perform
    hysterectomy was medically correct. The complainant wanted a cure for
    her problem and the AH-BSO surgery provided her such cure, apart from
    protecting her against any future damage to intestines, bladder and ureter.
    She explained that if the uterus and ovaries had not been removed there
    was a likelihood of lesion extending to the intestines causing bleedings,
    fibrosis and narrowing of the gut; the lesion could also go to the surface
    of the bladder penetrating the wall and causing haematuria and the ureter
    could be damaged due to fibrosis leading to damage of the kidney; there
    was also a chance of development of cancer also. She also pointed out
    that the complainant being 44 years of age, was in the pre-menopausal
    period and had menorrhagia which prevented regular ovulation which
    was necessary for pregnancy; that endometriosis also prevented
    fertilization and produced reaction in the pelvis which increased
    lymphocytes and macrophages which destroy the ova and sperm; and
    that the state of bodily health did not depend upon the existence of uterus
    and ovaries.

    51. The respondent also examined Dr. Sudha Salhan, Professor and
    Head of Department (Obstetrics and Gynaecology) and President of the
    Association of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Delhi. Having seen
    the records relating to appellant including the record pertaining to clinical
    and ultra-sound examinations, she was of the view that the treatment
    given to appellant was correct and appropriate to appellant's medical
    condition. She stated that the treatment is determined by severity of the
    disease and hysterectomy was not an unreasonable option as there was no
    scope left for fecundability in a woman aged 44 years suffering from
    endometriosis. She also stated that the histopathology report dated
    15.5.1995 confirmed the diagnosis of endometriosis made by respondent.
    She also stated that she saw video-tape of the laparoscopic examination
    and concurred that the opinion of respondent that the lesion being
    extensive conservation surgery was not possible and the problem could
    effectively be addressed only by more extensive surgery that is removal
    of the uterus and ovaries. She also stated that the presence of chocolate
    cyst was indicative of endometriosis. She also stated that medication
    merely suppresses endometriosis and the definitive treatment was surgical
    removal of the uterus and both the ovaries. She also stated that
    hysterectomy is done when uterus comes out from a prolapse and the
    woman is elderly, or when there is a cancer of the uterus, or when there
    are massive fibroids or when a severe grade of endometriosis along with
    ovaries or in cases of malignancy or the cancer of the ovaries.

    52. The evidence therefore demonstrates that on laparoscopic
    examination, respondent was satisfied that appellant was suffering from
    endometriosis. The evidence also demonstrates that there is more than
    one way of treating endometriosis. While one view favours conservative
    treatment with hysterectomy as a last resort, the other favours
    hysterectomy as a complete and immediate cure. The age of the patient,
    the stage of endometriosis among others will be determining factors for
    choosing the method of treatment. The very suggestion made by
    appellant's counsel to the expert witness Dr. Sudha Salhan that worldwide
    studies show that most hysterectomies are conducted unnecessarily by
    Gynecologists demonstrates that it is considered as a favoured treatment
    procedure among medical fraternity, offering a permanent cure. Therefore
    respondent cannot be held to be negligent, merely because she chose to
    perform radical surgery in preference to conservative treatment. This
    finding however has no bearing on the issue of consent which has been
    held against the respondent. The correctness or appropriateness of the
    treatment procedure, does not make the treatment legal, in the absence of
    consent for the treatment.

    53. It is true that the appellant has disputed the respondent's finding
    that she was suffering from endometriosis. The histopathology report also
    does not diagnose any endometriosis. The expert witness examined on
    behalf of the appellant has also stated that there was no evidence that the
    appellant was suffering from endometriosis. On the other hand the
    respondent has relied on some observations of the histopathology report
    and on her own observations which has been recorded in the case
    summary to conclude that the appellant was suffering from
    endometriosis. The evidence shows that the respondent having found
    evidence of endometriosis, proceeded on the basis that removal of uterus
    and ovaries was beneficial to the health of the appellant having regard to
    the age of the appellant and condition of the appellant to provide a
    permanent cure to her ailment, though not authorized to do so. On a
    overall consideration of the evidence, we are not prepared to accept the
    claim of appellant that the respondent falsely invented a case that the
    appellant was suffering from endometriosis to cover up some negligence
    on her part in conducting the diagnostic/operative laparoscopy or to
    explain the unauthorized and unwarranted removal of uterus and ovaries.

    Re : Question No.(vi) :

    54. In view of our finding that there was no consent by the appellant
    for performing hysterectomy and salpingo-oopherectomy, performance of
    such surgery was an unauthorized invasion and interference with
    appellant's body which amounted to a tortious act of assault and battery
    and therefore a deficiency in service. But as noticed above, there are
    several mitigating circumstances. The respondent did it in the interest of
    the appellant. As the appellant was already 44 years old and was having
    serious menstrual problems, the respondent thought that by surgical
    removal of uterus and ovaries she was providing permanent relief. It is
    also possible that the respondent thought that the appellant may approve
    the additional surgical procedure when she regained consciousness and
    the consent by appellant's mother gave her authority. This is a case of
    respondent acting in excess of consent but in good faith and for the
    benefit of the appellant. Though the appellant has alleged that she had to
    undergo Hormone Therapy, no other serious repercussions is made out as
    a result of the removal. The appellant was already fast approaching the
    age of menopause and in all probability required such Hormone Therapy.
    Even assuming that AH-BSO surgery was not immediately required,
    there was a reasonable certainty that she would have ultimately required
    the said treatment for a complete cure. On the facts and circumstances,
    we consider that interests of justice would be served if the respondent is
    denied the entire fee charged for the surgery and in addition, directed to
    pay Rs.25,000 as compensation for the unauthorized AH-BSO surgery to
    the appellant.

    55. We accordingly allow this appeal and set aside the order of the
    Commission and allow the appellant's claim in part. If the respondent has
    already received the bill amount or any part thereof from the appellant
    (either by executing the decree said to have been obtained by her or
    otherwise), the respondent shall refund the same to the appellant with
    interest at the rate of 10% per annum from the date of payment till the
    date of re-payment. The Respondent shall pay to the appellant a sum of
    Rs.25,000/- as compensation with interest thereon at the rate of 10% per
    annum from 19.11.2003 (the date of the order of Commission) till date of
    payment. The appellant will also be entitled to costs of Rs.5,000 from the