Court appoints wife guardian of comatose spouse
Mumbai: In a major relief for the wife of a person in coma, the Bombay High Court on Friday appointed her as his guardian to enable her to operate his bank accounts and handle his financial affairs to continue funding his care.
A bench of Justices S S Kemkar and Girish Kulkarni perused a report submitted by a sub-divisional magistrate who, as directed by them, visited Leo Lobo at his Nerul home to verify his health. The report confirmed Lobo, a former senior executive at Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL), was in a comatose state.
With his health status verified and Lobo’s two married daughters also tendering affidavits they had no objection to their mother handling the finances, the bench declared Philomena Lobo the guardian of her husband as he lay in a vegetative state. The HC perused report of SDM Sudam Pardeshi submitted by government lawyer Kavita Solunke.
The wife moved the HC to direct banks and other authorities, including financial institutions, to allow her to deal with the financial affairs of her husband as there was no legal procedure laid down to ease the process for a care-giving family member in cases where a person slips into coma. While Lobo had funds in his bank accounts and got pension from BPCL in his pension account, which, as required by rules was only in his name, his wife couldn’t conduct transactions to repay friends and family who chipped in with Rs 12 lakh for treatment during his hospital stay from August 30 to September 26. Now, a room in his house has been converted into an ICU and cost anticipated per month for his care is Rs 1lakh. BPCL spent on his treatment, but for reimbursements she needed to submit forms signed by the 63-year-old Lobo. Now with the order, she can submit the forms on his behalf.
Counsel for the Centre on Friday suggested she be asked to furnish a security to operate his finances. As Lobo’s counsel Sultana Sonawane objected, the bench itself said any such surety is not necessary.