Kasaragod: After 28 years, the state government has agreed to compensate 75-year-old Mallakkara Kamalakshi who lost her left eye in surgery at the Kasaragod District Hospital.
The government's change of heart came seven days after the Subordinate Court in Hosdurg attached the Scorpio of Kanhangad Regional Divisional Officer (RDO) to recover around Rs 8 lakh to compensate the woman.
On Wednesday, September 27, Additional Government Pleader K P Ajay Kumar told the sub-court that the government would pay the full amount to Kamalakshi in 10 days.
On September 20, Subordinate Court Judge M C Biju attached the four-year-old Scorpio of the RDO. The Motor Vehicle Department valued the vehicle at Rs 6 lakh. "We were ready to initiate the auction proceedings to sell the car when the AGP told the court that the government would pay the money," said Kamalakshi's advocate Manoj Kumar K.
The woman was working as a cook at Islamia Aided Lower Primary School at Kadangod in Kasaragod's Cheruvathur panchayat when a cataract clouded her eyes in 1995.
District Hospital's eye surgeon Dr Thresiamma performed the cataract surgery on Kamalakshi's right eye on June 8, and on the left eye on June 23, 1995.
But a bacterial infection in the operation theatre turned disastrous for Kamalakshi and her left eye had to be surgically removed in a hospital in Mangaluru. She underwent a laser treatment to restore the sight in her right eye in another hospital in Mangaluru.
She had to spend around Rs 5 lakh for the procedures in Mangaluru. Two years later in 1997, she filed a petition in the Hosdurg Subordinate Court seeking Rs 3 lakh as compensation from the government.
The government contested it. The court ordered her to deposit Rs 30,000 to admit the petition. She moved the high court and got the financial restriction removed but the case went on for more than two decades.
Kamalakshi had given the original brief to Adv Manoj Kumar's father Adv K Purushottaman, a former CPM MLA from Udma. Adv Manoj Kumar took over the case after his father died in 2014.
In 2018, 21 years after she filed the case, the Hosdurg Subordinate Court ordered the government to pay her Rs 2.3 lakh as compensation, plus interest.
The LDF government took another two years to appeal against the order in the High Court of Kerala. The High Court took three years to dismiss the appeal of the government in January 2023.
Instead of paying the compensation, the government in August gave the court a 19-year-old Tata Spacio of the Health Department to recover the money.
The Motor Vehicle Department valued the vehicle at Rs 30,000. Over the years, the compensation ballooned to nearly Rs 8 lakh.
Kamalakshi's lawyer refused to put the Spacio under the gavel and urged the court to attach another vehicle.
The court ordered the attachment of the RDO's car and that seems to have done the trick. But in the 28 years since 1995, Kamalakshi's vision in the right eye has faded.