Saturday, 14 October 2017

Whether wife can be permitted to operate bank account of her husband if he is in COMA?

The wife of a retired general manager with a PSU, who is comatose for over a month, has moved the Bombay high court to be allowed to access his bank accounts.

Philomina, wife of Leo Lobo (63), has sought to be appointed as his guardian—in the absence of specific legal provisions to deal with the rights of such patients— so that she can use his account to fund his medical care. On Wednesday, the Central government counsel, Advait Sethna, said first a sub-divisional magistrate's report must be called for to verify the medical certificate and her claim.

The HC then immediately directed a sub-divisional magistrate from Thane Collectorate to visit the Lobos' Nerul house and prepare a report on Leo's health condition by Friday. Neurologists from Apollo Hospital in Navi Mumbai had certified that Leo Lobo was suffering from 'malignant MCA territory infarction of the brain' and was 'in a persistent vegetative state'.
The bench of Justices Shantanu Kemkar and Girish Kulkarni passed the order after lending a sympathetic ear to advocate Sultana Sonawane, who appeared for petitioner Philomina Lobo.

"Due to his condition, he was unable to speak, sign or communicate in any way,'' said the medical certificate. Sonawane said she will file affidavits by Philomina's two married daughters to state their no-objection to their mother being allowed to operate their father's bank accounts, and placed the matter. The HC directed state lawyer Kavita Solunke to submit the magistrate's report and deferred the matter to Friday.

Sonawane said Lobo was constrained to approach HC as the banks where her husband has accounts only in his name, declined her permission to operate them without court order. Philomina has so far spent Rs 12 lakh on her husband's treatment and has exhausted her funds and even borrowed monies from family and friends. One of the rooms in the Lobos' house has been converted into a well-equipped AC nursing room, said Sonawane. Leo, who had retired from BPCL as general manager, had suffered a paralytic stroke and was admitted to Apollo Hospital on August 30. He has been 'unconscious and in a comatose condition' on ventilator life support since his admission, said the petition. But with his vitals and 'physical parameters' stable, the hospital discharged him after 28 days and advised that he be kept under 24-hour care of a trained paramedic.

The PSU helped with the medical expenses, said Philomina, but to repay money and for his continued care, which is expected to cost Rs 1 lakh a month, she needs to withdraw from his savings and assets as his hospitalization was sudden. Also, his bank accounts were not in joint names, something that was on his to-do list. He had saved for his family, Philomina said, and the pension account is allowed to be only in his name. Besides, although entitled to reimbursements from BPCL, she needs to submit documents signed by Leo. But since he is in a coma, she needs to be permitted to sign on his behalf, she pleaded.
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