1 IN THE HIGH COURT OF JHARKHAND AT RANCHI W.P.(P.I.L) NO.5256 of 2016 COURT ON ITS OWN MOTION Vrs. The State of Jharkhand & others CORAM:- HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE APARESH KUMAR SINGH139.2016 The National Daily “ The Hindu” in its Kolkata edition on Monday 12.9.2016 has published a report with a caption “ Dalit woman gives birth near highway” , “Doctors in nearby hospital allegedly refused to treat her”.This incidence as reported has happened in Latehar District of the State near National Highway No.33. A Scheduled Caste woman is reported to have given birth to a child by the side of the road barely 500 meters from the District Hospital where allegedly the Doctors on duty refused to go to the spot and treat her. The incidence took place on Thursday night when Sona Mani Devi (25) along with her three minor children walked 18 Km from Heshla village to the district Headquarters in Latehar town to get Aadhaar cards for her children. By the time she reached Latehar, it was too late to complete the process. She was told to come on Friday. Since she had no money to avail any transport to return home, she took shelter in a nearby tea stall. The owner of the stall allowed her to stay there for the night and was not aware that she was pregnant. The lady went into labour in the early hours of Friday urging locals to take her to a hospital. The local people informed about the woman’s condition to the Latehar Sadar Hospital but the Doctors on duty 2 refused to go to the spot. Soon after, Ms. Devi gave birth to a baby. It is reported that Superintendent of Police, Latehar, Mr. Anup Birthare after being informed by the locals about the incidence, has instructed the local police station to send an ambulance and admit Ms.Devi to the hospital. It is also reported that the District administration has taken the matter very seriously and the Deputy Commissioner has issued show cause to the concerned doctors and the Chief Medical Officer of the Hospital. The photograph of the woman along with her minor children lying by the side of the road is also published. ( the copy of the newspaper report is being kept as a part of the record.) The incidence as reported can be said to be a gross case of human right violation apart from a serious case of infringement of the right to life and proper medical care guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. (See Pt. Parmanand Katara Vrs. Union of India reported in 1989 (4) SCC286 The state has under the National Rural Health Mission also framed a scheme to extend maternity and child care benefits to such expecting woman and their newly born child. Under the Legal Services Authority Act, 1987, National Legal Services Authority (N.A.L.S.A.) has also launched Flagship scheme which also tends to provide for protection and enforcement of Tribal right through NALSA (Protection and Enforcement of Tribal Rights) Scheme, 2015. Its aim is access to justice to the Tribal people in all its connotation, access to right, benefit, legal aid and other services etc. so that assurance of the Constitution of India towards justice, socio-economic and political is meaningfully experienced by the Tribal 3 population in the country. NALSA has taken serious note of the lack of health care, human resources in tribal areas and the fact that despite infrastructure and health care institutions created in the form of Health Sub-Centers, Primary Health Centers, they often remain dysfunctional. It is further compounded by inadequate monitoring, poor quality of reporting and accountability. The barriers of language, poor transport, low literacy and unfriendly behavior of the staffs often lead to a lower utilization of the health care centers. The other flagship scheme i.e. NALSA(Effective Implementation of Poverty Alleviation) Scheme, 2015 also seeks to achieve the objectives to ensure access to basic right and benefits to socio-economically weaker sections of the Society by organizing awareness programmes and by providing assistance through Legal Services Officers and Para Legal Volunteers to ensure that the benefits of such poverty alleviation schemes are extended to the intended beneficiaries in collaboration with concerned district authorities. It also intends to provide legal assistance to access such poverty alleviation scheme through legal aid clinics. There is a complaint redressal mechanism provided under the aforesaid scheme under which the designated authorities and the District authorities are under obligation to enquire into the matter and pursue the same with the concerned department or even take appropriate legal proceeding. The nature of incidence reflects an indeed sad state of affairs where the fruits of progress and development still do not seem to have reached the most needy, under-privileged and downtrodden sections of the Society. It reflects a terrible sense of apathy at various levels. The 4 photograph shows number of onlookers standing around the hapless woman lying with her minor children undergoing labour. One would have expected anyone of the onlookers to extend a helping hand with a sense of humanism and at least take her to the nearest hospital for emergency aid and care. Taking serious note of the incidence, I take suo motu cognizance of the matter in public interest in exercise of the powers conferred under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. Let the concerned Departments and its Officers submit a report on the incidence and also ascertain the accountability of the concerned persons. They should also indicate the steps taken to ameliorate the pain and suffering of the affected lady and her minor children including the newly born infant. Accordingly, let the following parties be impleaded as Respondents in the instant P.I.L.
1. The State of Jharkhand through its Chief Secretary 2. The Principal Secretary, Department of Social Welfare, Women and Child Development, Govt. of Jharkhand 3. The Principal Secretary, Health, Medical Education and Family Welfare, Govt. of Jharkhand 4. The Principal Secretary, Department of Welfare, Government of Jharkhand 5. The Deputy Commissioner, Latehar 6. The Superintendent of Police, Latehar 7. The Civil Surgeon cum Chief Medical Officere, Latehar. Let all possible medical , financial and other necessary assistance including fooding and lodging be also extended to the Lady and her minor children by the District authorities, Latehar, if not already done within the 5 next 24 hours, as permissible in law. As an interim measure, let a compensation be paid to the affected lady, Ms. Sona Mani Devi of a sum of Rs.50,000/- within 24 hours. A report showing compliance of the same be also sent to the learned Registrar General of this Court by 4.30 in the afternoon on 14.9.2016. The District & Sessions Judge, Latehar cum Chairman, District Legal Services Authority, Latehar is also directed to furnish a report in the matter before the next date. Further the Deputy Commissioner, Latehar shall also submits its report in this regard to the Court and as to the compliance of the directions issued by the next date. Let the matter be placed before the appropriate Division Bench on 15th September, 2016 with permission of Hon’ble the Chief Justice. Learned Registrar General of this Court is directed to communicate the order to all concerned so that necessary compliances be furnished before the next date of hearing. Let a copy of this order along with enclosed paper report be furnished to the Office of Advocate General tomorrow i.e. 14.9.2016 by the Registry. Let the name of learned Advocate General appear in the cause list also. (Aparesh Kumar Singh, J.)