Top Court sets aside compensation awarded to woman having child after Tubectomy

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Supreme Court relied on its previous judgment wherein it was held that methods of sterilization so far known to medical science which are most popular and prevalent are not 100% safe and secure and in spite of the operation having been successfully performed and without any negligence on the part of the surgeon, the sterilized woman can become pregnant due to natural causes.

The Supreme Court has set aside the compensation awarded to a woman who had a baby after having undergone tubectomy surgery on two counts.

As per the facts on record, Baljinder Kaur, respondent No. 2 underwent tubectomy procedure on 23rd September, 1994 and 27th February, 1998. Both the procedures remained unsuccessful and she gave birth to a male child in the year 2003.

Kaur thus filed a complaint before the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum alleging medical negligence on account of failed tubectomy surgery. The complaint was dismissed and this order was affirmed in an appeal by the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.

In revision, the NCDRC set aside the orders passed by the District and State Commission and directed the Civil Hospital to pay compensation as per the guidelines and the policy of the State.

Before the top court, reliance was placed on the judgment of State of Punjab Vs. Shiv Ram & Ors., to contend that the failed tubectomy surgery is not a case of medical negligence as the sterilized woman can become pregnant due to natural causes. Once the woman misses the menstrual cycle, it is expected of the couple to visit the doctor and seek medical advice, the court was told.

"The cause of action for claiming compensation in cases of failed sterilization operation arises on account of negligence of the surgeon and not on account of child birth. Failure due to natural causes would not provide any ground for claim. It is for the woman who has conceived the child to go or not to go for medical termination of pregnancy. Having gathered the knowledge of conception in spite of having undergone sterilization operation, if the couple opts for bearing the child, it ceases to be an unwanted child. Compensation for maintenance and upbringing of such a child cannot be claimed”, the Supreme Court had held in Shiv Ram's case.

Accordingly, a bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia held that the National Commission had erred in law in granting unspecified compensation to the respondent.