CHENNAI: A man here has been awarded Rs 60,000 compensation by the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, after a private hospital wrongly certified him HIV-positive and thus unfit for employment, which cost him an overseas job with a Japanese firm.
The incident happened in 2007, when R Mohanan approached the hospital in Adyar for a pre-employment medical check-up as mandated by Haneda Consultants and Agencies Private Ltd, for a project in Algeria.
The hospital contended that the Japanese company had made arrangements and payments only for the rapid ELISA test, which has an element of error. There was an advice in the report to undergo the more accurate Western Blot test, argued the hospital, faulting the petitioner for not following the advice.
The ‘advice’ on Western Blot figures below the final impression, “in an insignificant manner”, without even mentioning that Mohanan should undergo the test for a conclusive result, pointed out the commission, taking serious note of the fact that the final opinion that the person is HIV-positive and thus not fit for job was given without he undergoing the Western Blot test.
The hospital cannot plead that the employer did not make arrangements for the Western Blot test and no payment was paid, said the order, adding: “In that case, [the hospital] ought not to have recorded the final impression as HIV-positive and in a case where ELISA test alone is done and the result is HIV-positive, the opposite party is not supposed to declare the final impression.”
On the hospital’s contention that there was no privity of contract between it and the complainant as the fee was not collected from him but from the Japanese firm, the commission noted that though the hospital did not levy a charge from the petitioner, it still was not a free service. As the employer had paid for the tests, it still came under the purview of the Consumer Protection Act.
However, the body rejected Mohanan’s wife K R Parimala Mohanan’s claim to be party to the case and for compensation. The commission, presided by retired Justice R Regupathi with P Bakiyavathi and J Jayaram as members, awarded Rs 50,000 as the “appropriate and reasonable compensation for the negligence and deficiency in service and for the mental agony and sufferings”. In addition, Rs 10,000 was awarded as cost.