Compensation formula: Delhi HC junks Johnson and Johnson's plea
New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday declined any interim relief to US-based Johnson and Johnson, which has challenged the formula approved by the Centre for determining compensation for patients who received "faulty" hip implants, saying the plea was neither important nor urgent.
"Some matters are important and some are urgent. Unfortunately, this does not fall under either of the two categories," Justice Vibhu Bakhru said.
The court also said it would not be "apposite" to pass any orders in the matter when the issue related to the compensation was pending before the Supreme Court in a PIL.
The observations by the court came after the central government's standing counsels Amit Mahajan and Gaurang Kanth said the top court was seized of the issue in which the pharma major was also a party.
Johnson and Johnson told the high court that no notice has been issued to it by the apex court and it was not aware of any orders passed by the top court.
Justice Bakhru, however, did not agree with the argument and said "now you know the matter is there in Supreme Court. Take appropriate steps".
"In view of the above, the court does not think it apposite to pass any orders at this stage. Further consideration of the petition is deferred to await the outcome of the proceedings in the Supreme Court," the high court said and listed the pharma major's petition on February 26.
In its plea, the company has sought quashing of a recent press release of the government informing the general public about the formula worked out by an expert committee to compensate patients who received the "faulty" hip implants produced by the pharma major's subsidiary, DePuy Orthopaedics Inc (USA).
It has also challenged the report of the expert committee -- headed by RK Arya, Director, Sports Injury Centre -- which worked out the compensation formula.
Besides, it has also sought quashing of the report of another committee -- headed by Arun Agarwal, Professor of ENT, Maulana Azad Medical College -- which was appointed by the Health Ministry for looking into the allegations of faulty hip replacement implants.
According to the Arya committee report, compensation payable to patients would be determined in terms of the disability by the faulty hip implants in relation to their age.
Those between 20 to 35 years would get compensation between Rs 58.08 lakh and Rs 49.66 lakh for 20 to 30 per cent disability; Rs 77.63 lakh to Rs 69.41 lakh for 30 to 40 pre cent disability; Rs 100.17 lakh to 89.32 lakh for 40 to 50 per cent disability and Rs 122.71 lakh to Rs 109.15 lakh over 60 pre cent disability, the press release had said.
It said those between 35 to 60 years will get compensation between Rs 49.66 lakh and Rs 33.63 lakh for 30 per cent disability; Rs 69.49 lakh to Rs 44.45 lakh for 30 to 40 pre cent disability, Rs 89.32 lakh to Rs 57.26 lakh for 40 to 50 per cent disability and Rs 109.15 lakh to 69.08 lakh for over 60 pre cent disability.
Those above 65 years will get of 30 lakh for 20 to 30 pre cent disability, Rs 40 for 30 to 40 per cent ability, Rs 50 lakh for 40 to 50 per cent and 60 lakh for over 60 per cent disability, it had said.
The pharma major told the court that as a result of the press release, people are "landing at its doorstep" for compensation and contended that the government's public announcement was made without any legal basis.
When the court asked the ministry as to under what law the press release was issued, the government said the same issue was pending in a PIL before the apex court.
The PIL in the apex court has alleged that "faulty" and "deadly" hip implants have been fitted into the bodies of 4,525 Indian patients.
The plea has contended that DePuy makes, sells and exports medical implants, including articular surface replacements (ASR) hip implants which have been withdrawn by the firms on their own in 2010 on the ground that they were defective.
According to the PIL, the firms "illegally sold DePuy ASR Hip Implants in India from 2005 to 2006.
Also Read: J&J hip implants: Affected patients seek clarity on report on compensation amount