Monday, July 7, 2008

SC rejects NRI mother's plea for baby's autopsy

Apex court rejects NRI mother's plea for baby's autopsy

The Supreme Court Friday dismissed a non-resident Indian mother's plea for conducting an autopsy on her five-month-old baby who died in Britain in 2000 after British medical authorities allegedly decided to let her die because she was diagnosed as terminally ill.

From Correspondents in Delhi, India, 4 Jan 2008 11:00 PM

The Supreme Court Friday dismissed a non-resident Indian mother's plea for conducting an autopsy on her five-month-old baby who died in Britain in 2000 after British medical authorities allegedly decided to let her die because she was diagnosed as terminally ill.

Dashing the mother's hopes for a fair probe into the cause of her child's death, a bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice R.V. Raveendran ruled that the Indian judiciary cannot issue instructions to British authorities.

The bench dismissed the woman's plea, and endorsed the October 2007 ruling of the Delhi High Court that 'post-mortem without the possibility of a subsequent criminal probe' into the cause of death was not legally possible. Indian laws become ineffective in case of crimes committed abroad by an alien, the high court held.

The apex court decision Friday brought to an end a seven-year-old, heart-wrenching story of a mother with dual India-British citizenship and her quest for justice as she suspected her baby daughter, Sunaina, died of potassium chloride poisoning from an overdose of a medicine due to medical negligence.

According to the petition filed by the mother, Sadhna Chaudhary, her suspicion of medical negligence had grown all the more stronger as she had found her baby's eye and several internal organs removed during the post-mortem in Britain.

The examination of the removed organs could have authenticated her doubts of potassium chloride poisoning as the reason for the death, she contended in her petition.

Chaudhary suspected that her baby became terminally ill only after having been administered an overdose of the medicine.

She had flown her baby's body to India in March 2007 after preserving it in an UK morgue for over six years since the death in late October 2000 at Essex. She had been waging a lone legal battle for justice since then.

On her arrival in Delhi, she had preserved the baby's body at a private mortuary at Paharganj in central Delhi, where the body is still lying.

The British authorities had ordered Chaudhary on Feb 20, 2007, to cremate the body within four weeks, failing which they said they would do the needful.

After she brought the body to India, she approached the external affairs ministry for a fresh autopsy. The ministry, acceding to her request, asked the health ministry to conduct the post-mortem.

But the Delhi government took the plea that since the alleged offence was committed abroad, there was no rationale for conducting the autopsy here.

The Delhi government, finally acceding to her fervent pleas, asked the Maulana Azad Medical College (MAMC) to conduct the post-mortem examination. However, the hospital refused on the ground that the body had been preserved in chemicals for too long to arrive at an authentic cause of death.

Following the hospital's refusal, the mother waged another round of legal battle in India, which she eventually lost Friday.

However, her quest for justice may not prove entirely futile.

While dismissing her plea for autopsy, the Delhi High Court had sent the copy of its judgement to the Law Commission of India, seeking its opinion on whether a legal scheme could be framed to deliver justice in such cases.

(© IANS)

Courtesy_
http://www.indiaenews.com

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