The Orissa High Court on Tuesday ordered a probe into the alleged death of a woman and her baby in 2015, who died allegedly due to 'medical negligence'.
A petition was filed by the father-in-law of the woman, who not only lost her baby due to an intra-uterine death but herself died while receiving treatment on 25th March, 2015. The petitioner submitted that the death of the baby as well as the woman was due to medical negligence and was avoidable.
The Division Bench of Chief Justice Dr. S. Muralidhar and Justice Radha Krishna Pattanaik noted that the pleadings in the petition presented disputed questions of fact with the opposite parties claiming that there was no medical negligence. Further, the opposite parties appeared to have conducted an enquiry into the maternal death of the woman in question.
With a view to obtain an objective assessment of the materials on record, the Court requested the State Commission for Women, Odisha (SCWO) to assist it in the task. Accordingly, it issued the following directions:
"(i) A complete set of papers will be made available by the Registry of this Court to the Secretary, SCWO, Toshali Plaza, Satyanagar, Bhubaneswar not later than 1st June, 2022;
(ii) The SCWO will constitute an appropriate enquiry team to examine the papers and also visit and record statements of the Petitioner and his family members, the concerned treating doctors, the place of treatment, the medical case record and make an assessment as to the veracity of the claims of either party on the basis of the materials gathered. The SCWO can also take the assistance of a qualified medical professional for making its assessment.
(iii) The report of the SCWO pursuant to the above directions be made available to this Court not later than 1st July 2022."
Notably, while hearing the petition on 29th November 2021, the Court recorded that it asks for the constitution of 'Maternal Death Review Board' for effective implementation of the Janani Surakshya Yojana. Then the Bench comprising of Chief Justice Dr. S. Muralidhar and Justice Bibhu Prasad Routray had held that the issues raised in the petition had been comprehensively dealt with in a judgment of the Delhi High Court in Laxmi Mandal v. Deen Dayal Harinagar Hospital (2010), which was authored by Justice Muralidhar himself.
The Court therein directed the State to present before it a comprehensive plan which will include payment of compensation for maternal death on account of the failure of the health care system in the individual case and for conduct of a maternal death audit as was done in the case of Laxmi Mandal (supra).
The counsel appearing for the petitioner had drawn the attention of the Court to the fact that there were 38 other writ petitions pending before a Single Judge Bench of the Court which involved the same issue. Therefore, the Bench had directed that the said writ petitions, the list of which was provided by the counsel to the Court to be listed along with the present case.
The matter is now listed for 1st August 2022 for further hearing.
Case Title: Sambara Sabar v. State of Odisha & Ors.
Case No.: W.P.(C) No. 11860 2015
Order Dated: 17th May 2022
Coram: Chief Justice Dr. S. Muralidhar & Justice Radha Krishna Pattanaik
Counsel for the Petitioner: Mr. Saroj Kumar Padhy, Advocate along with Sujata Rani Dash, Advocate
Counsel for the Respondents: Mrs. Saswata Patnaik, Addl. Govt. Advocate; Mr. Bibhu Prasad Tripathy, Advocate
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Ori) 73