HC rejects pvt hospital's plea to quash govt order

Chennai: The Madras High Court has rejected a plea by a Tamil Nadu-based private hospital to quash a state government order debarring it from conducting cataract operations under a national programme, following 66 persons going blind in an eye camp organised by it in 2008.

Dismissing the petition filed by the Tiruchirapalli eye hospital, Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar said "unless and until the petitioner hospital is exonerated from the criminal allegation, it has no right to demand permission to conduct cataract surgeries under the National Programme for Control of Blindness."

On May 11 this year, the state Health and Welfare department had debarred the hospital from participating in the programme.

The Judge pointed out CBI, which probed the matter, in its preliminary report had found a prima facie case. Hence "the debarment of the petitioner hospital from conducting cataract operations cannot be found fault with," the judge said.

The hospital, started in 1934 to 'render sustainable and affordable eye care services to the poor and under privileged sections', had conducted eye operations in 21 districts of the state and had been conducting 35,000 surgeries every year.

It had three satellite units at Ariyalur, Perambalur and Karur. The Perambalur unit had organised an eye camp in 2008 at which 66 persons belonging to two villages of Villupuram district had lost their sight.

Following a PIL seeking compensation to the victims, the High Court had directed the CBI to investigate the matter.

A case had been registered against the hospital management, three doctors, office-bearers of Perambalur District Blindness Control Society and some unidentified government employees.

They have been charged with acting in a rash and negligent manner endangering human life and under the Prevention of Corruption Act.