A public interest litigation has been filed before the Allahabad High Court demanding a court-monitored time-bound CBI probe into the Gorakhpur tragedy, in which over 65 children have died since last Thursday at the Baba Raghav Das Medical College, to identify the cause of the deaths and the guilty.
The PIL, filed by the Youth Bar Association of India and advocates Saksham Srivastava and Shikhar Awasthi, sought direction to the CBI to “properly and thoroughly investigate, within a time bound period which this Court may deem fit, the incident in which more than 65 children died due to scarcity of oxygen in order to identify the culprits responsible for the same”.
“Further such inquiry/investigation may very kindly be monitored by this Hon'ble Court to ensure fair and proper investigation, in the interest of justice,” the PIL, filed through advocates Saksham Srivastava and Anoop Trivedi, said.
It also urged the court to call for a detailed report of the inquiry held at the level of the government and the medical college and also “summon the reports of the magisterial and judicial inquiry” ordered by the government.
The PIL has named the UP government, Director General, Medical And Health Services; District Magistrate, Gorakhpur; Chief Medical Officer, Baba Raghav Das Medical College, and its former principal Rajiv Mishra. It also arrayed Pushpa Sales Company and the CBI as opposite parties.
Oxygen supplier violated ESMA?
The PIL alleged Pushpa Sales Company, the liquid oxygen supplier, had stopped the supply due to non-payment of bill of Rs. 69 lakh by the college, despite repeated reminders, leading to the unfortunate incident.
“… such act of the contractor was also in the violation of the provisions of the Essential Services Maintenance Act,1981, where any supply to the hospital has been brought under the definition of “essential services” under section 2(1)(a)(x) of the Act,” it said.
The PIL highlighted various differing statements being made by various officials and the UP government on the cause of deaths. It said while the government has been denying that lack of oxygen caused the deaths, it went on to suspend the principal of BRD medical college for not making timely payments to Pushpa Sales.
“..at this stage it cannot be said who is at fault but the families and parents of those infants are suffering enormously and demanding justice. Therefore, it is necessary for an intense inquiry to take place in this matter to identify whether this incident is sheer an accident or negligence or it is an offspring of corruption prevailing in the society,” the PIL said.
“Only after intervention of the CBI, the real culprits can be identified and prosecuted in accordance with law,” it said.
The PIL also stated how states like Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu have created the State Medical Services Cooperation for supply of medical services and equipment in its hospitals which helps the government monitor the stock availability in various hospitals at all times.