Willing to pay Rs 25 lakh compensation to patients affected by its faulty hip implants, Johnson & Johnson tells Delhi HC

Willing to pay Rs 25 lakh compensation to patients affected by its faulty hip implants, Johnson & Johnson tells Delhi HC

Aditi Singh

Johnson & Johnson today informed the Delhi High Court that it is willing to pay Rs 25 lakh as compensation to patients affected by its faulty Articular Surface Replacement (ASR) hip implants.

A Single Judge Bench of Justice Vibhu Bakhru was hearing Johnson & Johnson’s challenge to a direction by the Central Government asking it to pay compensation of Rs 65 lakh and Rs 74 lakh to two affected patients.

The company has also challenged a press release issued by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare asking it to pay compensation to affected patients, as determined by the reports of the Committees formed to examine the issues relating to its faulty hip implants.

Two Expert Committees were formed under the Chairmanship of Dr. Arun Kumar Agarwal and Dr. RK Arya. While the Agarwal Committee examined the issues relating to faulty ASR hip implants, the Arya Committee determined the quantum of compensation.

The formula is based on the percentage of disability, age factor, and risk factor, and was accepted by the Government of India, as per a press released dated November 29, 2018.

Applying the formula, the patients suffering due to faulty hip implants would get as much as ₹1.2 crore each and an additional ₹10 lakh for “non-pecuniary” losses, Mint has reported.

While Johnson & Johnson has expressed its intention to pay Rs 25 lakh to the affected patients, it has contended that Centre has no jurisdiction under the Drug and Cosmetics Act to enforce the compensation as determined by the Committee.

“The question here is of the procedure. What is the power of the Committee to frame the formula?… There was Bhopal Gas Tragedy also. (But) There was a legislation to enforce the compensation. Can an Executive Authority do so? Where is the provision under law to enforce it?”, Justice Bakhru remarked.

While issuing notice, the Court has directed Centre to seek instructions in the plea.

Johnson & Johnson was represented by  Senior Advocate Sandeep Sethi, who was briefed by Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas Partner Ashwin Sapra.

Centre was represented by Standing Counsel Amit Mahajan.

The matter will be heard next on May 2.

The Delhi High Court had earlier refused to consider the plea in light of a pending public interest litigation on the issue of compensation before the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court petition, filed by Arun Kumar Goenka, was disposed of in January this year after the Court accepted the compensation scheme suggested by the Centre.

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