Plea Based On Newspaper Reports Leads To Dismissal of PIL Against Govt Hospital For Medical Negligence With ₹10K Cost: Madhya Pradesh HC

In Pramod Kumar v. State of Madhya Pradesh (Writ Petition No.3876/2017), the Madhya Pradesh High Court, Indore Bench, recently dismissed two PIL petitions seeking action against a government hospital for alleged incompetence that led to disruption of oxygen supply, killing 17 patients.

Brief Facts Of The Case:  The division bench comprising Justice Vivek Rusia and Justice Amar Nath (Kesharwani) was hearing two PIL writ petitions in which the petitioners sought criminal and disciplinary punishment against those guilty for the deaths of innocent people, as well as compensation for the victims’ families. As a temporary remedy, they wanted an impartial organisation led by a former High Court judge to investigate/inquire.

A local publication reported that 17 people died on 21-22 June 2017 due to an interruption in oxygen delivery at Maharaja Yashwantrao Hospital (M.Y. Hospital), Indore. The then Indore Commissioner and M.Y. Hospital Superintendent denied these fatalities’ explanations. The hospital’s management performed an internal investigation and decided that all 17 patients were in serious condition and died from disease, not oxygen deprivation. The whole M.Y. Hospital had no oxygen disturbance. The hospital’s medical officer told the court that the petitioner’s claims were false and meant to tarnish the government’s free medical services. The State argued that no one from the deceased’s relatives had complained to police or hospital administration, therefore the petitions should be dismissed.

Judgement: Perusing the parties’ statements and materials on record, the Court noted that the Petitioners contacted the Court based on a news item, and no other evidence has been provided to substantiate the claims. Petitioners believe the death was caused by a lack of oxygen, hospital corruption, incompetence, etc. 

The court noted that petitioners should have done basic research before making such significant charges. The court acknowledged the Respondents’ thorough response on the Hospital’s capacity and amenities. It said that 17 individuals were in serious condition and died from disease. Six government officers from different agencies evaluated the oxygen facility and found no malfunctions or supply disruptions. It said it had no reason to dispute their allegations, hence submitting the PIL solely on newspapers constituted an abuse of law. The court dismissed the petitions, fined each petitioner Rs.10,000, and ordered that the money go to the hospital.



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