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The apex consumer commission has upheld a state panel's order asking a recreational club in Surat to pay Rs 18 lakh as compensation to the kin of a man who collapsed at the club and subsequently died due to inadequate help from the staff. The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) asked the Surat City Gymkhana to pay the sum to its member Tarun Sharma's family and said "there was no help whatsoever from the club" which "amounted to callousness and thus severe deficiency in service". "The very fact that they failed to produce any evidence at all, even by way of affidavits of their officials who were present and who provided first aid and who helped take the deceased to the hospital, speaks volumes and is self- incriminating," the bench, headed by presiding member Anup K Thakur, said. The commission also held that since the club provides certain facilities to its members against payment of a consideration comprising one time and recurrent fees, it is a service provider and the deceased was its consumer. According to the complaint filed by Amritaben, wife of Sharma, he collapsed inside the club premises during morning walk on December 16, 2005. Since there was no staff available, another member took him to a nearby hospital where he died the next day. The club claimed that it was a natural death and under no circumstances, was it attributable to any other factor than "an act of God".
The club also contested that the death could not be related to any deficiency in service on the part of the Club. The Gujarat state consumer commission had asked the club, its president and secretary to pay the amount jointly and severally to the kin of Sharma. Later the club approached the apex commission which uphled the state commission's decision.
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