New Delhi: A man, whose 19 buffaloes died due to negligent treatment by government doctors, has been awarded a compensation of Rs 20 lakh by the National Consumer Commission.
The apex consumer fora held the treating doctors and Delhi government’s Animal Husbandry Department jointly liable for paying up, giving them four weeks to cough up the compensation.
The Commission bench, headed by Justice DK Jain, took note of the fact that the owner of the buffaloes had to down the shutter on his 45-year-old dairy business, due to the death of 19 of his 22 buffaloes in January 2004.
The three buffaloes who survived were the only ones who were not administered injections by doctors from a Delhi government’s veterinary hospital.
“The complainant, an illiterate landless dairy farmer, depending on income through sale of milk to meet the basic requirements of life involving securing food, fodder, medicine, clothing and shelter, was forced to close down his dairy – his only source of livelihood,” regretted the Commission.
It underlined that the complainant, Shabhu Dayal, was completely dependent on his livestock to earn his daily bread and support his family.
“Keeping in view the complainant’s pitiable plight and having regard to the fact that 19 out of 22 buffaloes… died within a span of three days resulting in the closure of his dairy… the award of the compensation as claimed in the complaint, cannot be held to be excessive or unjust, warranting our interference,” said the Commission.
It upheld the view, taken by the state consumer commission, that Dayal had to be paid keeping in mind the average price of a buffalo in 2004 and the compensation could not be lacking due to his innocence or wrong calculation. Dayal had not asked for a proper sum.
The Commission ordered the doctors and the Delhi government to pay him Rs 9.4 lakh, along with an interest of 9 percent per annum – total of which comes to be above Rs 20 lakh.
Justice Jain noted that Dayal had been awaiting justice for more than 13 years and the compensation to be awarded should be ‘just’ and ‘fair’.
The Commission rejected the appeal moved by the doctors and the city government, maintaining that negligence of the treating doctors stood established.
When the doctors claimed that buffaloes died due to severe cold, the Commission wondered: “We fail to comprehend any reason as to how the remaining three buffaloes, which were not treated by the team of doctors, survived. They were also exposed to the same weather conditions like the dead buffaloes.”
It also described as “shocking” that even the prescriptions were not put on record by the doctors and that “names of the medicines and injections administered are still a mystery”.