Court takes suo moto action on Chhatishgarh sterilization death; Bail granted to the Doctor-accused in the case as his counsel stated doctors cannot be arrested in the cases of medical negligence before a proper probe is conducted
The death of women in sterilization camps has brought to the forefront several issues. It has not stopped at the death of these women but has led further to talk about rights of these women and punitive actions being taken against those responsible. It has opened up debates which have been pending for a long time in India. Chhattisgarh State Legal Services Authority has also been directed by the court to conduct camps in villages and use various means of communication to spread awareness among people regarding their health.
The legal update on the unfortunate incident is that Chhattisgarh High Court has:
- directed the state government to seize tainted and sub-standard medicines
- ordered to identify those people who have consumed these prohibited medicines and conduct health check-up camps for them.
A division bench of Justice TP Sharma and Justice Inder Singh Upoweja gave these directions while hearing an intervention petition filed by Congress leader Manishankar Pandey. Judiciary, Executive and Media seem to be working in tandem to tackle the aftermath of the death of several women at the sterilization camps. It bears witness to the action that can take place if all the pillars do the work they have been tasked with.
India has wheels poised, but often they are not in motion, however, when these wheels churn right they lead to just results. The essential issue is that the story does not disappear off everyone’s radar before the legislative pillar takes any progressive steps with regard to the issue of rights pertaining to reproduction. Whether this leads to further work under the ambit of reproductive health or if this issue is limited to merely taking punitive action to reduce the public outcry only time will tell.
Earlier, the HC had taken suo moto cognisance of death of 13 women after tubectomies at state-run camps in Bilaspur and issued notices to Centre, state government and Medical Council of India (MCI) seeking a report over the incident. The court had appointed two advocates Salim Kazia and Sunita Jain as amicus curiae (friend of the court) to assist it on the issue.
The state government, the Centre and MCI requested for more time to file these reports. Next hearing on the issue has been scheduled for December 22.
Further, the Bilaspur High Court, a different bench, has granted bail to Dr RK Gupta, an accused in the case. Justice Sanjay K Agrawal granted bail to Dr Gupta on a bond of Rs 50,000.
The accused lawyer contended before the court that post-mortem reports of the victims who were operated upon at Pendari sterilisation camp in the district and laboratory reports had revealed that contaminated medicines caused the deaths and not the doctor's negligence. He also argued that as per the Supreme Court, doctors cannot be arrested in the cases of medical negligence before a proper probe is conducted.
Dr Gupta has been charged by the police with culpable homicide not amounting to murder. The district court had refused him bail.