court: Cal Hc: No state vicarious liability for legal actions | Kolkata News

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Kolkata: The Calcutta High Court on Monday dismissed a claim for compensation of Rs 100 crore against the government of Bengal for vicarious liability, holding it liable in an alleged defamation case against a High Court judge. “There is no master-servant relationship between the State and a High Court judge, and therefore there is no issue of vicarious liability of the State for legal actions of the judge,” said the HC.
Judge Shekhar B Saraf said in his order: “There was no legal duty imposed on the state to prosecute the judge.”
“In fact, the Judge’s Protection Act 1985 clearly offers protection to the Honorable Judge. In my view, the state has no obligation to appease the plaintiff and, in fact, the state is obligated to obey and comply with the orders of the Court. Plaintiff’s erroneous notion that the State is responsible and liable to take action against orders made by the High Court is absolutely without merit and finds no place in law,” the order added.
The case concerns the death of Anuradha Saha in 1998 following medical negligence. A complaint was lodged in the Alipore court against three doctors who had treated her. Her husband, Kunal, first moved the National Consumer Redressal Forum and then the West Bengal Medical Council against doctors. Both were fired.
In 2002, the Alipore court convicted two doctors of causing death by negligence and acquitted the third. While the convicted doctors appealed the order, Saha’s relatives appealed to the Calcutta High Court to challenge the third doctor’s acquittal.
The HC heard all the cases together. In 2004, Judge Gora Chand Dey, in his judgment, acquitted the convicted doctors, confirmed the acquittal of the third and even made some observations against the petitioner. This was overturned by a judgment of the Supreme Court.
Kunal then filed a lawsuit against the judge in the court of Alipore, as well as Calcutta HC. Both were fired. In 2012, Kunal petitioned the Bengal government to take action against the judge. In 2017, he sent a notice claiming Rs 100 crore compensation from the state for failing to act against the judge. He then moved the HC again, which led to the April 4 order. The HC in its order said the complaint was late filed and had no cause of action.
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