ON 15 APRIL 2013, JS Verma, the former chief justice of India, won an “Indian of the Year” award from NDTV for his work heading a committee to reform the country’s rape laws. A day later, he fell distinctly unwell. On 17 April, he was admitted to the Fortis Escorts Hospital in Okhla, in south Delhi, where he was discovered to have severe gastro-intestinal bleeding. For over a decade, Verma had lived with coronary artery disease, in which the arteries feeding the heart progressively narrow, affecting blood flow to it. One of his daughters, a doctor, had helped diagnose the condition herself. But Verma had managed the problem well enough. Members of his family said that working eighteen to twenty hours a day on the rape law reform committee, through December 2012 and January 2013, had not strained him unbearably.
However, Verma also had significantly deranged liver function, which affected the organ’s ability to make proteins essential for clotting blood. Verma’s family alleges that his doctors at another hospital had identified this problem during a check-up months earlier, but outright ignored it. Instead, they had prescribed Verma new medication, including an additional blood-thinning pill, that was actively harmful under the circumstances.