The Daily Fix

‘The Supreme Court has ended as an institution’: 10 reads on this week’s judicial drama

Allegations of impropriety and heated arguments gave legal commentators plenty to chew on this week.

Heated scenes in the Supreme Court last week and an order from a Constitution bench this week offered plenty of material for commentators to dig in, considering India’s apex court was handling matters that could shake the public’s trust in the institution itself. On Monday, a three-judge Constitution bench passed an order saying there was no conflict of interest in the Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra choosing whom to assign cases to, even if his own conduct was the subject of those matters.

The matter came up last week when two Public Interest Litigations sought a court-monitored inquiry into what has come to be known as the Medical Council of India bribery case. The Central Bureau of Investigation is examining whether judges were bribed to overturn the Medical Council of India’s decision denying permission for a medical college to operate. Both PILs asked for a court-monitored inquiry, suggesting the executive could use the CBI investigation to undermine the judiciary. But they also asked for the matter to be heard without involving Dipak Misra, who had handled Medical Council of India matters earlier this year.

One Supreme Court judge seemed to agree to some extent, breaking convention to set up a Constitution Bench to look into the matter without deferring to the Chief Justice. But Misra quickly intervened, effectively nullifying that order and setting up a separate bench. And Monday’s order gave further support to his decision, saying the Chief Justice’s administrative handling of the court – like assigning cases to specific benches – cannot constitute conflict of interest.

Naturally, there were lots of reactions from all sides:

  1. “It’s really a very very sad day in the history of the Supreme Court – firstly, I have not seen this kind of extraordinary interest being taken by a Chief Justice in a matter which involves him directly, and secondly, because of the kind of unseemly proceedings which took place in the Supreme Court,” said Prashant Bhushan, who represented one of the petitioners in the case, in an interview to the Wire.
  2. “The scars inflicted on the foundation of this Institution must be healed as quickly as possible. Otherwise the credibility of this Institution, its acceptability and the love and respect it commands amongst the citizens will be seriously jeopardised,” writes Dushyant Dave, a senior advocate, on Livelaw.
  3. Pratap Bhanu Mehta, vice-chancellor of Ashoka University, makes a significant point in the Indian Express: “Taken together, both the chief justice’s and the judge’s conduct highlights one obvious fact: There is no Supreme Court left any more. In expanding its powers, the Supreme Court first replaced the rule of law with the rule of the court (they are not the same thing); now the rule of court has been replaced with the anarchic will of individual judges. The Supreme Court has effectively ended an institution.”
  4. “Propriety would plausibly demand that since the FIR pertained to a case where Justice Misra had been the presiding judge, as Chief Justice of India, he would not perform his default role of allocating Benches for determination of this case or exercise his prerogative of hearing the case himself,” writes Arghya Sengupta, research director of the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, in the Hindu. “Unfortunately, by allocating the matter to a Division Bench, the Chief Justice gave this principle a go-by.
  5. Raju Ramachandran, a former Additional Solicitor General, writes in the Print that “it is difficult to recall any moment as ugly and demoralising” as the Supreme Court’s behaviour last week.
  6. “It is also equally worrying that the Supreme Court Bar Association and several senior members of the bar were complicit in achieving this result,” writes Vikas Mahendra in the Wire. “The SCBA in fact even went so far as to demand that contempt charges be framed against fellow members of the bar who attempted to clear the air in a matter of such extreme importance.”
  7. Gautam Bhatia, on his blog, explains why the point is not whether the Chief Justice did influence the case, but whether he had the power to do so at all: “He might be the most honest judge that ever lived, but that is not the point; the principle is not that “no person shall be a (dishonest) judge in her own cause”. It is – for excellent reasons – simply that “no person shall be a judge in her own cause.”
  8. Colin Gonsalves, speaking to the Hindu, thinks the matter was “resolved amicably” and the real issue facing the court is the government’s actions against the judiciary. “The Central government today wants to saffronise the judiciary. It doesn’t want an independent judiciary. It doesn’t want judges of integrity. It doesn’t want thinking judges. It wants judges who will toe the line.”
  9. “Having served the institution as a lawyer and then as a judge of the apex court, I have very high hopes for the judiciary,” writes former Supreme Court Judge Santosh Hegde in the Print. “If friends and well-wishers of the judicial institution can’t convince it to get its act together, then god alone can save India. For me, it looks hopeless, but I still hope I am wrong.”
  10. Shanti Bhushan, a former law minister, offers a way forward in the Wire: “If the Supreme Court of India is to be saved, in my opinion, a bench with all the judges must take stock of the situation and consider the legal position dispassionately and wisely.”

Scroll reads

Subscribe to “The Daily Fix” by either downloading Scroll’s Android app or opting for it to be delivered to your mailbox. For the rest of the day’s headlines do click here.

If you have any concerns about our coverage of particular issues, please write to the Readers’ Editor at

We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

Putting the patient first - insights for hospitals to meet customer service expectations

These emerging solutions are a fine balance between technology and the human touch.

As customers become more vocal and assertive of their needs, their expectations are changing across industries. Consequently, customer service has gone from being a hygiene factor to actively influencing the customer’s choice of product or service. This trend is also being seen in the healthcare segment. Today good healthcare service is no longer defined by just qualified doctors and the quality of medical treatment offered. The overall ambience, convenience, hospitality and the warmth and friendliness of staff is becoming a crucial way for hospitals to differentiate themselves.

A study by the Deloitte Centre for Health Solutions in fact indicates that good patient experience is also excellent from a profitability point of view. The study, conducted in the US, analyzed the impact of hospital ratings by patients on overall margins and return on assets. It revealed that hospitals with high patient-reported experience scores have higher profitability. For instance, hospitals with ‘excellent’ consumer assessment scores between 2008 and 2014 had a net margin of 4.7 percent, on average, as compared to just 1.8 percent for hospitals with ‘low’ scores.

This clearly indicates that good customer service in hospitals boosts loyalty and goodwill as well as financial performance. Many healthcare service providers are thus putting their efforts behind: understanding constantly evolving customer expectations, solving long-standing problems in hospital management (such as long check-out times) and proactively offering a better experience by leveraging technology and human interface.

The evolving patient

Healthcare service customers, who comprise both the patient and his or her family and friends, are more exposed today to high standards of service across industries. As a result, hospitals are putting patient care right on top of their priorities. An example of this in action can be seen in the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. In July 2015, the hospital launched a ‘Smart OPD’ system — an integrated mobile health system under which the entire medical ecosystem of the hospital was brought together on a digital app. Patients could use the app to book/reschedule doctor’s appointments and doctors could use it to access a patient’s medical history, write prescriptions and schedule appointments. To further aid the process, IT assistants were provided to help those uncomfortable with technology.

The need for such initiatives and the evolving nature of patient care were among the central themes of the recently concluded Abbott Hospital Leadership Summit. The speakers included pundits from marketing and customer relations along with leaders in the healthcare space.

Among them was the illustrious speaker Larry Hochman, a globally recognised name in customer service. According to Mr. Hochman, who has worked with British Airways and Air Miles, patients are rapidly evolving from passive recipients of treatment to active consumers who are evaluating their overall experience with a hospital on social media and creating a ‘word-of-mouth’ economy. He talks about this in the video below.


As the video says, with social media and other public platforms being available today to share experiences, hospitals need to ensure that every customer walks away with a good experience.

The promise gap

In his address, Mr. Hochman also spoke at length about the ‘promise gap’ — the difference between what a company promises to deliver and what it actually delivers. In the video given below, he explains the concept in detail. As the gap grows wider, the potential for customer dissatisfaction increases.


So how do hospitals differentiate themselves with this evolved set of customers? How do they ensure that the promise gap remains small? “You can create a unique value only through relationships, because that is something that is not manufactured. It is about people, it’s a human thing,” says Mr. Hochman in the video below.


As Mr. Hochman and others in the discussion panel point out, the key to delivering a good customer experience is to instil a culture of empathy and hospitality across the organisation. Whether it is small things like smiling at patients, educating them at every step about their illness or listening to them to understand their fears, every action needs to be geared towards making the customer feel that they made the correct decision by getting treated at that hospital. This is also why, Dr. Nandkumar Jairam, Chairman and Group Medical Director, Columbia Asia, talked about the need for hospitals to train and hire people with soft skills and qualities such as empathy and the ability to listen.

Striking the balance

Bridging the promise gap also involves a balance between technology and the human touch. Dr. Robert Pearl, Executive Director and CEO of The Permanente Medical Group, who also spoke at the event, wrote about the example of Dr. Devi Shetty’s Narayana Health Hospitals. He writes that their team of surgeons typically performs about 900 procedures a month which is equivalent to what most U.S. university hospitals do in a year. The hospitals employ cutting edge technology and other simple innovations to improve efficiency and patient care.

The insights gained from Narayana’s model show that while technology increases efficiency of processes, what really makes a difference to customers are the human touch-points. As Mr. Hochman says, “Human touch points matter more because there are less and less of them today and are therefore crucial to the whole customer experience.”


By putting customers at the core of their thinking, many hospitals have been able to apply innovative solutions to solve age old problems. For example, Max Healthcare, introduced paramedics on motorcycles to circumvent heavy traffic and respond faster to critical emergencies. While ambulances reach 30 minutes after a call, the motorcycles reach in just 17 minutes. In the first three months, two lives were saved because of this customer-centric innovation.

Hospitals are also looking at data and consumer research to identify consumer pain points. Rajit Mehta, the MD and CEO of Max Healthcare Institute, who was a panelist at the summit, spoke of the importance of data to understand patient needs. His organisation used consumer research to identify three critical areas that needed work - discharge and admission processes for IPD patients and wait-time for OPD patients. To improve wait-time, they incentivised people to book appointments online. They also installed digital kiosks where customers could punch in their details to get an appointment quickly.

These were just some of the insights on healthcare management gleaned from the Hospital Leadership Summit hosted by Abbott. In over 150 countries, Abbott is working with hospitals and healthcare professionals to improve the quality of health services.

To read more content on best practices for hospital leaders, visit Abbott’s Bringing Health to Life portal here.

This article was produced on behalf of Abbott by the marketing team and not by the editorial staff.