Supreme CourtNew Delhi:
The Supreme Court has given a big decision in the case of an Air Force officer being infected with HIV during blood transfusion. The court has ordered a compensation of Rs 1.54 crore. The Supreme Court held the Indian Air Force and the Indian Army responsible for medical negligence and directed the compensation amount to be paid within six weeks.
In the judgment, the Supreme Court said that it is the duty of the authority to protect the lives of armed forces personnel. All personnel joining the armed forces are expected to be treated with dignity and respect.
In fact, during 'Operation Parakram', the Air Force officer was infected with HIV while transfusion when he fell ill on duty. A bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Arvind Kumar said in its order that the Indian Air Force and the Indian Army were responsible for the medical inconvenience caused to the officer, so he was entitled to a compensation of Rs 15473000,<>,<> due to medical negligence.
The bench said that since individual responsibility cannot be assigned, the Indian Air Force and the Indian Army are held responsible jointly and separately. The Indian Air Force is free to demand half of the compensation amount from the Indian Army. All dues related to disability pension should be disbursed within six weeks.
The Supreme Court in its judgment not only addressed the specific case but also gave important directions to the government, courts and quasi-judicial bodies under the framework of the HIV Act, 2017. Section 34 gives priority to the cases of all persons suffering from AIDS.
The bench was hearing an appeal against the decision of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC). The NCDRC had rejected the compensation claim made by the appellant due to medical negligence on the part of the respondent.
In Jammu and Kashmir, the appellant officer fell ill while on duty under 'Operation Parakram' and was admitted to 2002 Military Hospital, Samba in July 171, where one unit of blood was given to his body during treatment. In 2014, he fell ill again, when it was discovered that he was suffering from HIV. He sought information about the personal incident report of hospitalisation during July 2002. They were provided with medical case sheets.
Subsequently, medical boards were constituted in 2014 and 2015. The board found that he contracted HIV in July 2002 due to a one-unit blood transfusion. After this, the officer was dismissed from service on May 31, 2016, rejecting the extension of service.
The appellant also made an application for supply of disability certificate, which was rejected on the ground that there was no provision for it. Aggrieved by this, he approached the NCDRC claiming a compensation of Rs 95 crore, but his demand was rejected.
The retired Air Force officer had approached the Supreme Court against this decision. In the judgment, the Supreme Court also emphasised the importance of maintaining the dignity and well-being of armed forces personnel. "People join the armed forces with a lot of enthusiasm and a sense of patriotism. It also involves a conscious decision to put your life at stake and be prepared for the sacrifice of your life.
All state authorities, including those in the armed forces, have a common duty to maintain the highest standards of safety, including physical and mental well-being. This is necessary for the employer not only to ensure the morale of the forces, but also to show how important such personnel are and how much their lives matter.
Any violation of these standards not only brings a lack of confidence in the personnel but also weakens their morale. At the same time, it creates a feeling of bitterness and frustration in the entire force.