Compensation For Woman Who Got Pregnant Even After Undergoing Sterilisation: Orissa High Court

The Orissa High Court has ordered compensation in the matter of Shriya Chhanchan v. State of Odisha & Ors. (W.P.(C) No. 9594 of 2017) for a woman who became pregnant despite having undergone the State’s sterilisation procedure.

Brief Facts Of The Case: On January 2, 2014, the State-organised sterilisation treatments were performed on the petitioner. Even after that, she continued to skip her monthly periods. She then realised she was pregnant. She had gone to the High Court asking for compensation from the State because she was resentful of the aforementioned carelessness and was unable to afford the costs of raising the child . Mr. Arjuna Chandra Behera, counsel appearing on behalf of the petitioner submitted that though his client underwent sterilisation procedure conducted by the State, she conceived and delivered a child. Additionally, he said that she has filed for compensation because she is unable to pay the child’s costs owing to her precarious financial situation.

Relying on a clause under “Standards for Female and Male Sterilisation Services issued in October, 2006”, which states that- “Menstrual history: Date of last menstrual period and current pregnancy status”, he stressed that this procedure must have been followed before the operation.  In order to claim that his client was pregnant at the time the sterilisation surgery was performed, the State cannot now claim that the child was delivered at full term after failing to comply with that. He also cited the Family Planning Division, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India’s manual for family planning indemnity scheme, which was published in October 2013 and has a provision for Rs. 30,000/- compensation in the event of sterilisation failure.

On behalf of the State, Mr. Sailaza Nandan Das, Additional Standing Counsel, stated that the petitioner’s clinical evaluation and screening indicated that her last menstrual period occurred on December 22, 2013. The sterilisation procedure was place on January 2, 2014. He claimed that, as of the date of the sterilisation procedure, there was no record reflecting the current pregnant status in response to the Court’s inquiry. The petitioner did not follow up after the sterilisation procedure, he added, which was another issue made by him. She had agreed that if she didn’t start her periods right after the surgery, she would go to the clinic and request a medical termination of pregnancy if necessary (MTP). He stated that since the petitioner hasn’t done so, he is no longer able to claim that the process failed or to seek compensation.

Judgement: In its ruling, the Court stated that it appears the State neglected to inquire about the petitioner’s present pregnant status before performing the sterilisation procedure. The Bench further concluded that the State did not expressly deny the petitioner’s allegations in its counterargument. It was mentioned that the Chief District Medical Officer had attested to the counter as an affidavit. It was determined that the doctor’s evasive denial is insufficient to convince the court to doubt the petitioner’s claims to that effect. The court found that the sterilising procedure had failed to prevent the petitioner becoming pregnant. As a result, it decided that she is entitled to compensation equal to the aforementioned indemnity limit of Rs. 30,000 and ordered the State to contribute Rs. 20,000 toward the costs. Within three weeks of the order’s transmission, the compensation and fees were to be paid.

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