Court ap­points wife guardian of co­matose spouse

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) - - TIMES CITY - Swati.Desh­pande @times­group.com

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.

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