Chain clinics usually open branches throughout the city on premises taken on lease. If a clinic is shifted, can the patient be compelled to continue treatment at another branch or would the patient have the right to demand a refund? This unique case was recently decided by the Maharashtra State Commission.
Metropolis Healthcare Ltd, having its main office at Worli, had set up a chain of clinics. In 2011, Aziz Ahmed Jadwet took his children Maryam and Kauser to the Mantralaya centre for orthodontic treatment.
After consulting Dr. Neesu, Jadwet was advised to deposit Rs 41,000 for Maryam and Rs 36,000 for Kauser, which he did.
Meanwhile, the Mantralaya centre shut down. On making inquiries, Aziz was told Dr Neesu would treat the children at the Goregaon centre. Since this was inconvenient, Aziz sought a refund, but his request was rejected.
Aziz filed a complaint before the Central Mumbai District Forum, which held Metropolis guilty of deficiency in service and ordered it to refund the deposit along with 9% interest from November 24, 2015 onward along with Rs 10,000 compensation and Rs 10,000 litigation costs.
Metropolis appealed against this order. Jadwet, who appeared in person, argued the distance between the two centres was about 35 km, and it would be inconvenient for his school going children to travel to Goregaon. The Maharashtra State Commission concurred with Jadwet. It agreed with the District Forum’s view that the failure to refund money constituted a deficiency in service.
By its order (March 5), delivered by justice A P Bhangale along with Dr. S K Kakade, the State Commission upheld the Forum’s order and dismissed the appeal with further Rs 5,000 cost payable by Metropolis to Jadwet Impact:A patient cannot be compelled to travel long distances to a clinic. If the change in location is inconvenient, a demand for refund is justified.
Jehangir B Gai
ePaper, The Times of India, Bombay, Monday, April 8, 2019, Page 8:
(The author is a consumer activist and has won the Govt. of India’s National Youth Award for Consumer Protection. His email is jehangir.gai.columnist @outlook.in )