New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday sought a response of the Centre on a PIL for putting in place health insurance policies and a national programme for management of birth defects to ensure that foetuses with congenital problems are not aborted due to high cost of treating such children.
A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw also issued a notice to the General Insurance Council of India after Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain sought that it too be made a party to assist the court with respect to the issues raised in the public interest litigation (PIL).
The ASG also told the bench that there are now two schemes -- Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK) and Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakram -- in place which aim at early identification of birth defects in children between 0-18 years of age and take appropriate steps to deal with them.
The court asked the ASG to file an affidavit indicating all the schemes which are there to deal with the issue.
The court was hearing a plea filed by Dr Sanjay Kulshrestha, a paediatric surgeon, who is seeking directions to the ministries of Health, Finance and Women and Child Development to make available necessary insurance policies or health schemes for management of babies having birth defects "in order to reduce the very high neonatal mortality rate in India".
"It has been observed that in cases of newborns and foetuses having some congenital anomalies or birth defects, various health insurance companies and government organisations are making clear-cut discrimination," the petition has alleged.
It has also contended that almost all insurance companies "have not extended any medical insurance facility or policy for treatment of various newborn diseases, including birth defects during or after pregnancy".
"This discrimination by insurance agencies indirectly encourages the parents to opt for abortion in case some birth defect is detected during pregnancy," the petition has said.