Central aid for sterilisation camp victims underutilised, SC told

The government Friday told the Supreme Court that it had given money to the Chhattisgarh government to be paid to the victims of the botched-up sterilisation camp in Bilaspur last year in which 13 women lost their lives but the utilisation of this by the state was "poor".

New Delhi: The government Friday told the Supreme Court that it had given money to the Chhattisgarh government to be paid to the victims of the botched-up sterilisation camp in Bilaspur last year in which 13 women lost their lives but the utilisation of this by the state was "poor".

Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar made the admission to the social justice bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit which asked if the government was not auditing the expenditure of the money it gave to the etate under the Family Planning Indemnity Scheme.

Asking Ranjit Kumar if the central government stand was "I have given you (the state) the money. I don't care what you with it", the court asked that if Chhattisgarh government has spent Rs.1 crore from these funds on the Commission of Inquiry probing the causes, then it is "useless expenditure".

"If Rs.one crore goes to the commission (of inquiry), then it was useless. It (expenditure on commission) should come from state government," the court said.

"I will get it audited," Ranjit Kumar told the court.

Thee Family Planning Indemnity Scheme issued sometime in 2013 provides for compensation in the event of death following sterilization and in the case of failed sterlization, cost of treatment in hospital upto 60 days.

The Chhattisgarh government sought to push the blame on the pharmaceutical company Mahawar Pharma which allegedly supplied sub-standard antibiotic drugs used at sterilisation camps, as its counsel told the court that a case has been registered by the state government.

This invited query by the court whether the stocks of the substandard medicine of the pharma company have been seized and what happened to the stocks which were available with retail outlets.

The court also wanted to know the stage of prosecution against the pharma company and whether charge sheet has been filed in the case or not or it was still at the FIR stage.

Senior counsel Colin Gonsalves appearing for the PIL petitioner Diveka Biswas meanwhile told the court that NGO Population Foundation has blamed the "utterly unhygienic conditions, no water, no drugs" for the tragedy.

He said that 83 sterilisation operations were performed in one and half hour, telling the court that one can imagine the hygiene conditions that prevailed in such a situation. 

The court asked both the central and Chhattisgarh governments to file a detailed affidavit about the steps taken by each one of them including the manner of utilisation of funds under the Family Planning Indemnity Scheme, terms of reference of the inquiry commission and other aspect.

"Please remember there is a lot of responsibility on you," the court told counsel for Chhattisgarh government.

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