B’luru: NCDRC directs school to pay Rs 50L for negligence to student who has ’become vegetable’
Bengaluru: The apex consumer commission has directed a private educational institution in Bengaluru to pay a compensation of Rs 50 lakh to a student who suffered brain inflammation due to alleged negligence of teachers during a study tour. The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission while disposing of an appeal filed by BNM Educational Institutions said the teachers accompanying this student and other children on the trip were negligent in performing their duty.
NCDRC reduced the compensation amount from Rs 88.7 lakh granted to the girl by the state commission to Rs 50 lakh. "I have no hesitation in holding that since the teachers accompanying the complainant (child) were grossly negligent in taking her care despite taking such care being their mandatory duty ... the appellants (institutions and school principal) have rightly been held vicariously liable for the said negligence and accordingly have to duly compensate the complainant, to the extent such a compensation is possible," NCDRC Presiding Member VK Jain said.
According to the complaint, Akshatha was among a group of students and teachers which travelled to North India as part of a study trip organised by the school in December 2006. On reaching Delhi, the girl had fever which was allegedly not taken proper care of by the teachers. The complaint further alleged that the girl was made to continue in the trip despite bad health. The bench, after taking note of medical reports and other documents, observed "a sudden blackout and becoming unconscious even for a minute or so, warranted immediate medical attention to the complainant by a qualified doctor. This was not something which could be ignored..."
It also held that not taking the girl to a hospital, even after she had a repeat episode of blackout during the trip was a "clear indicator of the negligence, apathy and indifference" displayed by the teachers towards the health of the child. The school authorities, however, denied the allegations and claimed that the 14-year-old girl was not keeping good health for three months prior to the tour but this fact was withheld by her parents from them. They also denied negligence on their part in taking care of the girl.
Noting that the girl was "not in a position even to identify her parents and her cognitive and perpetual abilities are seriously impaired", the NCDRC said she was stated to have "become vegetable like for all practical purposes and needs to be bedridden 24 hours."
"Considering all facts and circumstances of the case, the appellant in my opinion should pay a consolidated amount of Rs 50,00,000 as an all-inclusive one time compensation to the complainant," the judge said.
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