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"(1) Service rendered to a patient by a medical practitioner (except where the doctor renders service free of charge to every patient or under contract of personal service), by way of consultation, diagnosis and treatment, both medicinal and surgical, would fall within the ambit of 'service' as defined... in the Act (The Consumer Protection  Act, 1986).

(2) The Fact that medical practitioners belong to the medical profession and are subject to the disciplinary control of the Medical Council of India and/or State Medical Councils constituted under provisions of the Indian Medical Council Act would not exclude the services rendered by them from the ambit by the Act."

- The Supreme Court in Indian Medical Association v. V. P. Santha, (1995) 6 SCC 651 (at p. 680).

"Article 21 of the Constitution casts  the obligation on the State to preserve life... When a man in such a miserable state hanging between life and death reaches the medical practitioner... he is always called upon the rush to help such an injured person and to do all that is within his power to save life. So far as this duty of a medical professional is concerned it is duty coupled with human instinct, it needs  no decision nor any code of ethics nor any rule or law."

- The Supreme Court in Pt. Parmanand Katara v. Union of India, (1989) 4 SCC 286 (at 293, 295).

Comment

In these landmark judgments, continuing its crusade of expanding the ambit of professional responsibility, the Court was examining the applicability of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 to affected persons as consumers. The Court was also examining the right of every injured citizen brought for treatment to be given immediate medical aid to preserve life. The reference in the first case was to the definition of service in Section 2(1)(o) of the Act where: "service means service of any description which is made available to potential users and includes the provisions of facilities in connection with banking, financing, insurance, transport, processing, supply of electrical or other energy, board or lodging or both, housing construction, entertainment, amusement or the purveying of news or other information, but does not include rendering of any service free of charge or under a contract of personal service."

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