Can State Commission or National Consumer Forum listen to any of the parties after the final argument is over and case is reserved for judgment? In Medical Negligence Cases is it compulsory for the Consumer Court whether it is State Consumer Forum or National Commission to appoint a Medical Expert Panel to check the Medical Victim?
No, it is not compulsory for the State Consumer Forum or the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission to appoint a medical expert panel while hearing medical negligence cases. In a 2010 judgment of the Supreme Court (V Kishan Rao v Nikhil Super Speciality Hospital and Anr.  5 SCR 1. Judgment may be accessed here:http://supremecourtofindia.nic.in/scr/2010_v%205_pi.pdf), it was held that expert evidence would only be required in complicated cases. In this matter, the discretion has been left to the Consumer Fora. The reason for this, according to the Supreme Court, is that the purpose of the Consumer Protection Act is to to provide a forum for speedy and simple redressal of consumer cases, and to compulsorily require expert evidence to be presented in every case, irrespective of the facts would be contrary to the purpose of the law. In cases where negligence is evident, the complainant would not have to prove anything and it would be up to the respondent to prove otherwise and repel the charge of negligence. Examples of such cases, according to the Supreme Court included:
- Where the patient suffered burn from high frequency electrical current that was meant for electric coagulation of the blood.
- Where an explosion occurred during the course of administering anaesthetic to the patient when the technique had frequently been used without any accident
- Where a needle broke in a patient’s buttock while he was being given an injection.
This principle was also affirmed by the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission in 2013. (Sun Flag Hospital Research Centre v Raghubir Singh Poswal, Revision Petition 4684/2012, judgment may be accessed here:https://indiankanoon.org/doc/184481647/)
With respect to the question of whether arguments could be presented after judgment has been reserved, the Act is silent on this question. However, with respect to the Code of Civil Procedure, which applies to the civil courts, the Supreme Court has held that once the hearing is completed, the parties have no further rights and privileges and it is only for the convenience of the Court that the judgment is permitted to be delivered at an interval after the completion of the arguments.(Arjun Singh v Mahindra Kumar and Ors. , AIR 1964 SC 993, judgment may be accessed here : https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1608703/ )Since the application of the Code is excluded by the Consumer Protection Act, it does appear that the judge would have some discretion in this matter, but it seems unlikely that arguments would be allowed once judgment has been reserved.
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