Ahmedabad Doctor sent to jail for not obeying consumer forum

It has been known for some time now that consumer forums are quasi-judicial bodies, although their orders can be appealed to courts (and many people do). However, in order for the consumer forums to be effective, it is mandatory that the orders passed by consumer forums be followed (unless stayed by another court). So, when a person against whom an order of compensation has been passed by the consumer forum refuses to accept it, what can be done ? A lot, including sending the person to jail for non-implementation of the order.

In an unprecedented case which has created a flutter among medical professionals, a gynaecologist was sent behind bars after he failed to honour the consumer forum’s order over a year ago directing him to pay compensation of Rs 2.5 lakh for negligence leading to death of a 27-year-old woman.
On Thursday, Dr Jayantilal Patel, who runs the Purna Maternity and Nursing Home in Bapunagar, was arrested and produced before M G Gulabani and Leena Desai of the Gujarat State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (GSCDRC), who sent him to Sabarmati Central Jail. After spending a night in the jail, a chastened Dr Patel hurriedly paid up by submitting a demand draft in the GSCDRC. Following this, he was released from jail on Friday.

The medical profession is a very noble profession, but even the best of doctors have to abide by the law and not pretend that they are above the law. In this case, the doctor was ordered to pay compensation for medical negligence, and refused to pay the compensation despite repeated reminders. And this led the Consumer Disputes Redressal forum to take stronger action; an arrest warrant was issued against the doctor, he was brought before the forum and sent to jail; he promptly paid up.

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