Bengaluru: A consumer court ordered Hyderabad-based fertility clinic to pay compensation of Rs 3 lakh on account of not providing service of promised surrogacy and also for following unfair trade practices.
The case concerns a 41-year old, Martin Sujay and his family who came for the services of Dr.Rama’s Fertility IVF Centre, Bengaluru on August 19,2016 after getting to know about the clinic via a newspaper advertisement. The first conversation happened over phone where the attendants from the clinic assured Sujay to provide baby through surrogacy. The clinic attendants informed that total cost incurred for the process would be around 7 lakh for one child and another extra 1.5 lakh for twin pregnancy.
During the first visit to the IVF centre on 19.08.16, Sujay paid Rs.2,25,000 along with the sperm for the process and on the next visit on 25.04.17 paid Rs Rs.2,50,000. He made multiple rounds to the clinic to give his sperm but the surrogacy case never took place. Each time the clinic gave him a new story of why things are getting delayed regarding getting the surrogate including once that surrogates are not available, once that there are chances of surrogate getting the half money and running away from the clinic etc., and that they are waiting for good surrogate
He alleged that on asking about the development in the process of surrogacy, the IVF centre would give different excuses on the matter. After three months the clinic stated it is not possible for them to give baby for single parent ( on account of the fact that he was a divorcee). The issues with the clinic continued and in the meanwhile complaint was filed by the man in the IV Additional District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Bengaluru, against Dr.Rama’s Fertility IVF Centre, Bengaluru seeking issuance of direction to pay the fees paid of Rs 4,75,000; cost of Rs 50,000 and damages of Rs 14,75,000.
Before the court, the opponents (doctor and the clinic) in their response submitted , they explained that the Complainants regarding the charges paid and to be payable to the surrogate is well within the knowledge of Complainants. The complainant had given sperms only once and in spite of that the IVF centre made several 7 phone calls to give sperms once again after taking necessary medicine for increase the counts in the sperm. It was explained regarding motility of sperms was inadequate hence the fact was made known to the Complainants. The main facts of the complaint were not explained in the complaint instead of the true facts all non-believable facts are given in the complaint to spoil the 27 year reputation of the clinic and thereby demand money in a illegal way by filing false cases like this.
The IVF centre submitted that, it was discussed and agreed between the Complainants and the IVF centre to settle the issue in the table of the clinic and the clinic were ready to return after deducting the first cycle expenditure and payments made to surrogate mother. The Complainants were non-cooperative from the beginning till filing of this complaint. The complainant knows each and every facts and expenditure to be made on getting a baby through surrogate mother. The clinic further submit that, both the Complainants from day one were keen to record both audio and video of discussion taken place between Ops and the Complainants and misuse the private recording made by the Complainants and sharing the same with the competitors if clinic and to make unlawful money through shortcut methods of selling the recorded material and spoiling the 27 year old reputation of the clinic and damaging the public views which are shared by different beneficiaries through this clinic. Hence, opponents prayed to dismiss the complaint and impose heavy cost on Complainants for filing false complaint and for non-payment of full charges to the clinic and also non-cooperating without giving sperms as and when required by the clinic.
The court took into record all the audio conversations between the clinic and the patient.
On hearing the grievances of both the sides, the court observed the lack of preliminary testing done by the clinic, in response to the argument about inadequate sperms of the complainant
Looking to the entire contents of the version and also the written arguments filed by them, nothing is pleaded with regard to the preliminary examination conducted on Complainant no.1, as to know, whether his sperm is quite sufficient having qualified counts to insert in the womb of the surrogate mother for pregnancy. When the preliminary test was not conducted, certainly there was laxity on the part of Ops.
The court also noted unfair trade practices by the clinic.
Further, the issue regarding, not possible to give baby for single parent is concerned, Ops never informed either to Complainant no.1 or Complainant no.2. If the said problem would have been informed to Complainant no.1 & 2, they never opted for surrogacy to get the child. Without informing with regard to not providing surrogacy to the single parent is concerned which itself is unfair trade practice on the part of Op.no.1 to 3.
Hence the court held the IVF clinic liable for compensation
After going through the matter and further discussing over it the IV Additional District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum comprising president S L Patil and member T N Roopa gave the following orders to the Dr.Rama’s Fertility IVF Centre, Bengaluru:-
The IVF centre directed to pay jointly and severally an amount of Rs.4,75,000/- to the Complainants, being paid by them to get child through surrogacy along with interest at the rate of 10% p.a. from the date of periodical payment to till the date of realization.
The IVF centre was also directed to pay compensation of Rs.3,00,000/- and cost of litigation of Rs.5,000/- to the Complainants.
IVF centre was also directed to realise the said amounts within six weeks from the date of receipt of this order, failing which the Complainants are at liberty to have the redress as per law.