A family's fight for their late son came to justice 22 years later on Wednesday when a consumer court directed a hospital in West Bengal to pay a compensation of Rs 19.20 lakh to the family on charges of improper medical treatment.
"Justice has come late but we are happy that it has not been denied," said the boy's uncles, Shankar Chowdhury.
Fifteen-year-old Dinanath Chowdhury had died because of medical negligence when a stray dog bit him while the boy was walking home from Gondalpara Jute Mill, Chandernagar, where his father used to work.
On the morning of June 13, 1996, a day after the boy was bitten, he was taken to the Sub-Divisional Hospital at Chandannagar. Instead of giving medical attention, the doctors reportedly sent him home and asked the family to watch the dog for 10 days.
Five days later, the family went back to the hospital reporting that the dog had disappeared from the locality. The victim was then given a shot of anti-rabies straight for 10 days, but his health kept deteriorating. On August 7, the boy was taken to ID Hospital at Beliaghata, where he died of rabies after two days.
The vaccine, which was kept at room temperature, was said to be ineffective due to improper storage and the victim was not given the right dose.
Initially, the family went to Hooghly Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum where their appeal was dismissed saying that the boy was not a consumer as he had availed free treatment.
The family's appeal was rejected from apex consumer court too, but they still gained the courage to fight the battle. They filed another petition with the state consumer court in 2012, in which they cited a Supreme Court observation that the recipient of free service was also a consumer. The matter was then sent back to the district.
The father of the boy died this January waiting for justice. "He had become depressed after his son's death. He would have been happiest this day," said the boy's uncle.