By J. Venkatesan
NEW DELHI, MARCH 22. The Supreme Court, expressing serious concern over deaths caused by unregulated sterilisation methods in the country, has directed all States and the Union Territories to permit only those doctors with five years of gynaecological experience to conduct sterilisation programmes.
A three-Judge Bench, comprising Justice Ruma Pal, Justice Arijit Pasayat and Justice C.K. Thakker, passed the order on a petition from Ramakant Rai and another person seeking guidelines for sterilisation procedures.
The Bench said several States had filed affidavits on the steps taken by them to regulate sterilisation procedures. However, it was apparent that there was no uniformity in the procedures and norms for ensuring that the guidelines framed by the Centre were being followed.
The Bench directed all the States and the Union Territories to introduce a system of having an approved panel of doctors with five years of gynaecological experience to carry out sterilisation. The panel might be prepared State, district or region-wise.
The State Government should prepare a check-list, which every doctor should fill before carrying out the sterilisation procedure. The check-list must contain the patient's age; his/her health condition; the number of children and other details. The State Government must make it clear to the doctors that they should not perform the operation without filling the check list and without obtaining the patient's consent.
The Judges said that all the States and the Union Territories should maintain a register containing the particulars of those persons who are sterilised; the number of deaths of the persons sterilised, either during or after the operation. The Governments should hold an inquiry into every case where the Centre's guidelines are breached by a doctor or an organisation and also take punitive action against them. The names of these doctors should be removed from the panel, pending enquiry against them.
Tamil Nadu format for insurance
The Judges further said that all State Governments should bring into effect an insurance policy according to the format prepared by Tamil Nadu until the Centre prescribed a standard format.
The Centre should lay down norms for the payment of compensation, which should be followed uniformly by all the States and the Union Territories. For now, a compensation of Rs. 1 lakh should be paid in case of death of a sterilised patient and Rs. 30,000 in case of incapacity and post-operative complications.
The Court directed the listing of the matter after eight weeks and asked the Centre and the States to file compliance reports.
© Copyright 2000 - 2008 The Hindu