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Orissa High Court Orders Compensation To Woman Who Got Pregnant Even After Undergoing Sterilization

Jyoti Prakash Dutta
26 Jun 2022 5:26 AM GMT
Orissa High Court Orders Compensation To Woman Who Got Pregnant Even After Undergoing Sterilization
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The Orissa High Court has ordered compensation to a woman who got pregnant even after undergoing sterilization process conducted by the State. While criticising the State for not following the proper procedures, a Single Bench of Justice Arindam Sinha observed, "State not having itself followed the procedure to the letter cannot turn around and say that petitioner had omitted to act...

The Orissa High Court has ordered compensation to a woman who got pregnant even after undergoing sterilization process conducted by the State. While criticising the State for not following the proper procedures, a Single Bench of Justice Arindam Sinha observed,

"State not having itself followed the procedure to the letter cannot turn around and say that petitioner had omitted to act as per undertaking given by her, to report that she missed menstrual cycle after the operation. As aforesaid analysis of pleadings in paragraphs 4 and 6, respectively of the petition and counter, do not support this contention of State."

Brief Facts:

The petitioner underwent the sterilization procedures organised by the State on 2nd January 2014. Even after that, she missed her regular menstrual periods. Subsequently, she discovered herself to be pregnant. Being aggrieved by the aforesaid negligence and being unable to bear the expenses to rear the child, she had approached the High Court praying compensation from the State.

Contentions of the Petitioner:

Mr. Arjuna Chandra Behera, counsel appearing on behalf of the petitioner submitted that though his client underwent sterilization procedure conducted by the State, she conceived and delivered a child. He also submitted that due to her poor financial condition, she is unable to meet expenses of the child and hence has claimed compensation.

On an earlier date of hearing, he had relied on "Standards for Female and Male Sterilization Services issued in October, 2006" by Research Studies and Standards Division, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. Under Standards for Female sterilization, there is sub-heading 1.4.2 on Clinical Assessment and Screening of Clients, to be made prior to the operation. Clause-b under the sub-heading has entry-v, which says as under.

"Menstrual history: Date of last menstrual period and current pregnancy status."

He stressed that this procedure must have been followed before the operation. Having been failed to comply with that, the State cannot turn around and say that the child was born on a full term delivery, to allege that his client was pregnant at the time sterilization operation was done.

He also relied on manual for family planning indemnity scheme issued in October, 2013 by Family Planning Division, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, in which available benefit includes and provides for Rs. 30,000/- cover on failure of sterilization.

Contentions of the State:

Mr. Sailaza Nandan Das, Additional Standing Counsel appearing on behalf of the State, submitted that clinical assessment and screening of petitioner revealed that she had her last menstrual cycle on 22nd December, 2013. The sterilization operation was conducted on 2nd January, 2014. Upon the query of the Court, he submitted that there was no record regarding current pregnancy status as on date of sterilization operation.

Further, he pointed out that the petitioner did not follow up after the sterilization operation. She had given undertaking that if she misses her menstrual cycle immediately after the operation, she was to report to the clinic and, in the circumstances, obtain Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP). Not having done so, petitioner now cannot allege failure of the procedure nor claim compensation, he argued.

Court's Observations:

The Court noted that there appears to have been omission by the State in obtaining current pregnancy status before conducting sterilization operation on petitioner. Further, the Bench also opined that the State did not specifically denied, in the counter, the averments made by the petitioner. It noted that the counter has been affirmed as an affidavit by Chief District Medical Officer. Hence, it held, vague denial on behalf of the doctor is insufficient to disbelieve petitioner's averments made to that effect.

The Court concluded that the sterilization operation resulted in failure to prevent the pregnancy of the petitioner. Hence, it held that she is entitled to compensation at par with the aforementioned indemnity limit of Rs. 30,000/- and the State was also directed to pay Rs. 20,000/- towards the costs. The compensation and costs were ordered to be paid within three weeks of communication of the order.

Case Title: Shriya Chhanchan v. State of Odisha & Ors.

Case No.: W.P.(C) No. 9594 of 2017

Date of Order: 24th June 2022

Coram: Justice Arindam Sinha

Counsel for the Petitioner: Mr. Arjuna Chandra Behera, Advocate

Counsel for the Respondents: Mr. Sailaza Nandan Das, Additional Standing Counsel

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Ori) 107

Click Here To Read/Download Order



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