NHRC gives final reminder to J&K govt for paying compensation to infant victims of spurious drugs case in Ramnagar area of Udhampur
Jammu, Dec 16
The National Human Right Commission (NHRC) has given a final reminder to Chief Secretary Govt. of UT of Jammu & Kashmir as well as Additional Secretary, Department of Health and Medical Education, UT of Jammu &Kashmir to submit the proof of payment of Rs.3 lakhs compensation to next of kin of each deceased infants/child within six weeks positively falling which the commission will be constrained to invoke its coercive powers u/s 13 of PHR Act, 1993 calling for the personal appearance of the authority concerned before the commission
NHRC also directed UT administration that the additional / complete report as directed by the commission in the matter be sent latest by 29/01/2022 for further consideration by the commission.
Sukesh C.Khajuria, an eminent social activist of J&K had approached the NHRC for ordering appropriate compensation to the victims of spurious drug case and fixing of responsibility of the state authorities in the case. He had argued that it was the constitutional duty of the state authorities not only to protect the lives of the citizens but also ensure that spurious drugs harmful for humans are not sold.
The issue of deaths of infants/children due to consumption of a particular spurious cough syrup in Ramnagar Tehsil of Udhampur District of Jammu & Kashmir during the month of December 2019-January 2020 was taken up by Sukesh C.Khajuria, with the NHRC seeking compensation for the families of the victims and fixing of the responsibility of the concerned authorities.
While taking up the matter on 7.9.2020 the Commission, after consideration of facts & circumstances of the case, found that there was a procedural lapse on the part of the Drug Department of the State of Jammu & Kashmir wherein the authority had duly failed to keep a regular vigil on the contamination and contents of medicines sold within its jurisdiction and thus held that the State is vicariously liable for said negligence. In view of that , by exercising power u/s 18a(i) of PHR Act, 1993, the Commission directed the Chief Secretary, Govt. of Jammu & Kashmir to show cause within four weeks as to why the Commission should not recommend payment of compensation of Rs. 3,00,000/- to the NoK of each deceased in the present case, who died due to the consumption of adulterated oral syrup/medicine and whose human rights have been infringed. The authority was further directed also to file report with regard to action taken against the delinquent officials, on account of whose negligence such incident had occured, which could otherwise be averted due to their strict vigil.
The said recommendation was confirmed vide direction dated 18-01-2021 wherein the Chief Secretary, Govt. of Jammu & Kashmir was asked to pay monetary compensation of Rs. 3,00,000/- to the NoK of each deceased in the present case, who died due to the consumption of adulterated oral syrup/medicine and whose human rights were infringed. It was further directed that the compliance report along with proof of payment be made available to the Commission within six weeks, positively.
Pursuant to that direction and reminder dated 6.5.2021, the Additional Secretary (Law), Health and Medical Education Department, UT of J & K, vide an email dated 07-06-2021 has submitted a compliance report by forwarding a letter dated 07-06-2021 of the Under-secretary of that Department wherein it is stated that vide a communication dated 01-06-2021, the State Drugs Controller, Drugs and Food Control Organization, J & K, Jammu has been asked to make the payment of Rs. Three Lakhs to the next of kin of each deceased in terms of the order of the Commission. It was, however, observed in the said letter dated 1.6.2021 which is addressed to the State Drug Controller, it is further clarified that said monetary compensation shall remain subject to the outcome of SLP pending before Supreme Court of India.
Interestingly, the J&K administration has approached the Supreme Court against an order of the J&K High court. The administration had gone to the high court against the order of the NHRC to order compensation to the infant victims of spurious drugs. The J&K High court rejected the administration plaint and observed that the victims deserved compensation and upheld the NHRC order. The J&K administration went to the Apex court where the hearing of the Special Leave Petition (SLP) is pending.
“On the one hand the UT administration has been trying to portray that it was willing to pay compensation to the victims, on the other hand it has even filed a special leave petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court against the order of the J&K High Court which has not only rejected the plea of the administration against the payment of compensation but also passed strictures against the conduct of the bureaucracy.” khajuria said .
Interestingly, The Health and Medical Education Department of the Govt. of Jammu & Kashmir in it’s Govt. order No.:-711 – JK(HME) of 2021 issued on November 16 , 2021 said in compliance to order passed by NHRC in case No. 80/09/14/2020, stated that a sanction was being accorded to the release of Rs.36 lakh for 12 deceased infant in Ramnagar area of District Udhampur, as a special and exceptional infant mortality case and its placement with the State drugs Controller, J&K , as compensation to next of kin of each deceased ,subject to the outcome of SLP pending before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India , following approval by the Administrative Council Decision No. 90/14/2021 headed by Lt. Governor Sh. Manoj Sinha in it’s meeting held on October 07,2021.
The parents of the victims have completed all the formalities with the Udhampur district Administration but are awaiting payment of compensation.
“Although, money cannot replace a human life but still can give some solace to the bereaved families who mostly are poor.”Khajuria said. (ends)