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Plea Based On Newspaper Reports, No Inquiry Into Facts Conducted: MP HC Dismisses PIL Against Govt Hospital For Medical Negligence With ₹10K Cost

Zeeshan Thomas
9 March 2022 11:00 AM GMT
Plea Based On Newspaper Reports, No Inquiry Into Facts Conducted: MP HC Dismisses PIL Against Govt Hospital For Medical Negligence With ₹10K Cost
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The Madhya Pradesh High Court, Indore Bench recently dismissed two petitions in the nature of Public Interest Litigation, seeking action against a government hospital for its alleged negligence that led to disruption of oxygen supply, causing death of its 17 patients. The division bench of Justice Vivek Rusia and Justice Amar Nath (Kesharwani) was dealing with two writ petitions in...

The Madhya Pradesh High Court, Indore Bench recently dismissed two petitions in the nature of Public Interest Litigation, seeking action against a government hospital for its alleged negligence that led to disruption of oxygen supply, causing death of its 17 patients.

The division bench of Justice Vivek Rusia and Justice Amar Nath (Kesharwani) was dealing with two writ petitions in the nature of PIL, whereby the Petitioners were seeking criminal as well as disciplinary action against the persons responsible for the death of innocent people along with a heavy amount of compensation to family members of the victims. By way of interim relief, they had also sought for an investigation/inquiry by an independent agency, headed by a retired High Court Judge.

Facts of the case were that a news was published by a local newspaper, that on the night of 21-22.06.2017, 17 persons died on account of disruption in the supply of oxygen in various wards of Maharaja Yashwantrao Hospital (M.Y. Hospital), Indore. The then Commissioner, Indore as well as Superintendent of M.Y. Hospital had denied the aforesaid reasons behind these deaths.

The Management of the Hospital had conducted an internal inquiry and concluded that the condition of all the 17 patients was critical and they died because of illness and not due to lack of oxygen. It was held that there was no such disruption in oxygen supply in the entire M.Y. Hospital. The Medical Officer of the Hospital submitted before the Court that the allegations levelled in the petition were baseless and only made in order to defame the medical facilities given by the Government, free of cost. The State, on its part, submitted before the Court that no one from the family of deceased had made any complaint either to the police or the management of the Hospital, and hence, the petitions were liable to be dismissed.

Perusing the submissions of parties and documents on record, the Court noted that the Petitioners approached the Court only on the basis of a news report-

These writ petitions (PIL) are only based on the news published in various newspapers suspecting the death of 17 patients in M.Y. Hospital due to disruption in oxygen supply. Apart from paper news, not a single material has been filed in these petitions to support the allegations. The petitioners have presumed that the death occurred due to shortage of supply of oxygen, corruption, negligence etc. on the part of the Management of M.Y. Hospital. It is very easy for newspaper agencies or the general public to blame the Government institutions.

The Court further observed that before making such serious allegations, the Petitioners should've conduced a basic inquiry-

The Government is spending so much amount to provide free medical facilities to persons who cannot afford expensive treatment in a private hospital, therefore, before making such serious allegations in the newspaper as well as by way of the writ petition, a basic inquiry ought to have been conducted.

The Court noted that the Respondents had given a detailed reply with respect to the capacity and facilities provided by the Hospital. It further took note of their submission that each of the 17 patients was in a critical condition and died due to illness. The Court also observed that as many as six Government Officers from different departments had jointly inspected the oxygen plant and found that there was no malfunctioning as well as disruption in oxygen supply. It opined that it had no reasons to disbelieve their reports, and therefore, filling of the PIL concerned, based on newspapers, was nothing but misuse of the process of law. Accordingly, it held that-

These two writ petitions were filed in the year 2017 and 50 times, all these petitions were listed before this Court only because the newspaper reporter has assumed that death took place due to disruption of oxygen supply and due to such insinuation, havoc has been created and petitioners have rushed to this Court by filing these writ petitions showing concern about the death without inquiring the matter. Had it been a case that death occurred due to negligence, the police would have registered FIR suo motu but no case has been registered, no complaint has been made either to the police or the Management of M.Y. Hospital, therefore, we are not inclined to entertain these petitions.

With the aforesaid observations, the Court dismissed the petitions, imposing cost of Rs.10,000 each on Petitioners, and further directed that the amount would go to the Hospital.

Case Title: Pramod Kumar v. State of Madhya Pradesh

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (MP) 67

Click Here To Read/Download Judgment


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