Mumbai News: HC Takes Suo Motu Cognisance Of Deaths In State Hospitals After Nanded Row

Mumbai News: HC Takes Suo Motu Cognisance Of Deaths In State Hospitals After Nanded Row

The Bench also asked the advocate to gather data regarding vacancies in the hospitals, availability of medicine, the percentage (of funds) the government is spending etc.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Wednesday, October 04, 2023, 08:12 PM IST
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Bombay High Court | File pic

The Bombay High Court on Wednesday took suo motu (on its own) cognisance of deaths at the state government run hospitals in Maharashtra and asked the government to provide details of the incidents. 

In the last three days, at least 31 individuals, including over a dozen infants lost their lives in a hospital in Nanded and another 18 persons died at a Chhatrapati Sambhaji Nagar hospital. 

A division bench of Chief Justice DK Upadhyaya and Justice Arif Doctor asked Advocate General Birendra Saraf, appearing for the state government, to submit on Friday details about the state's budgetary allocation for health. 

Earlier in the day, advocate Mohit Khanna had submitted a letter to the bench requesting it to take suo motu cognizance of the deaths. The bench initially asked him to file a petition and said it wanted to issue effective orders. It also asked Khanna to gather data regarding vacancies in the hospitals, availability of medicine, the percentage (of funds) the government is spending and so on.

However, later during the afternoon session, the bench said it was taking suo motu cognizance of the issue and sought details from Saraf. 

The CJ said that reasons given by the doctors at the hospitals that there is a shortage of staff, beds, and medicines cannot be accepted. 

Saraf assured the court that he would provide preliminary information on the incidents on October 6. 

In his letter, Khanna stated that 31 deaths, including those of infants, were recorded at the Dr Shankarrao Chavan Government Medical College and Hospital in Nanded in 48 hours since September 30. It also mentioned that the deaths of 18 patients, including infants, were recorded between October 2 and 3 at the Government Medical College and Hospital at Chhatrapati Sambhaji Nagar.

Khanna contended that under article 21 of the Constitution of India, right to healthcare is a fundamental right.  

Article 21 of the Constitution

“Article 21 of our Constitution as interpreted by the several judgements of the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India and the High Courts, guarantees and includes access to quality healthcare as a fundamental right of each and every citizen. Article 47 of our Constitution also embodies the directive principle of the duty of the State to raise the level of nutrition and the standard,” the letter said. 

“While the government of Maharashtra appears to have initiated an inquiry regarding the incidents, one can only imagine the plight of the citizens who cannot afford healthcare and are dependent on the government for the same as well the relatives of those beavered,” the latter adds.  

The court has appointed Khanna as amicus curiae (friend of the court) and kept the matter for hearing on October 6. 

The deaths have sparked massive outrage across the state, with opposition gunning for the tripartite government led by CM Eknath Shinde. The state government too announced a probe into the incidents. 

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