Medical negligence behind Justice Verma’s death: Controversy erupts

Medical negligence behind Justice Verma’s death: Controversy erupts

Justice J. S Verma, who passed away on 22nd April 2013 in a Gurgaon Hospital, is said to have not received adequate and timely medical care. Not satisfied with the medical treatment which the former chief justice received, his wife had in July this year petitioned to Prime Minister for a re-examination of medical records by a team of doctors from country’s premier medical institute, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences. The cause of death cited was serious liver conditions and internal bleeding.

The issue has now caught national attention in the wake of a mass petition by 34 eminent citizens, initiated by the former Chief Justice of India (CJI) M.N. Venkatachaliah.  It has been pointed out in the petition that justice Verma, who was otherwise healthy and led a very disciplined and Spartan life, had no serious health issues. It has been further emphasized that there is a lack of proper health care system in the country even for such distinguished individuals and that there is a need for setting-up a professional standards and regulatory body for ensuring ethical standards and accountability in our healthcare system.

The petition is signed by Justice Kuldip Singh, Soli Sorabjee, Anil B Divan, Shanti Bhushan, Gopal Subramanium and several other veterans from diverse fields, including Infosys Chairman NR Narayana Murthy.

Justice Verma was the 27th Chief Justice of India and continued to be active in public life even after his retirement. He is credited with chairing the high profile three-member committee constituted in the wake of the gruesome December 16 Delhi gang rape incident for revising the country’s criminal law in connection with sexual offences. The recommendations made by Justice Verma Committee were brought in Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, which madefar-reaching crucial amendments in the archaic Indian Penal Code and Evidence Act.

“We have seen the letter addressed to you by Pushpa Verma, wife of former CJI Verma, in which she has conveyed her deep anguish… We strongly feel that necessary steps be taken to investigate the serious medical lapses that resulted in this tragic loss to the nation,” states the petition submitted to the Prime Minister.

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