Updated: August 19, 2017 1:44:17 pm
The Allahabad High Court on Friday directed the Uttar Pradesh government to submit the findings of its own inquiry into the recent deaths of more than 60 children at Gorakhpur’s B R D Medical College and Hospital while maintaining that it will set up an alternate judicial inquiry into the matter only if it is not satisfied with the government’s findings.
The court was hearing five PILs urging for a judicial probe into the deaths of 30 children between August 10 and August 11 because of a possible disruption of liquid oxygen supply at the hospital among other fatal cases.
The two-member bench asked the state government to submit the reasons behind the deaths and what it had done to control the situation. “…respondents are directed to file short counter affidavits, indicating the steps taken by them so far in respect of the death of children in the said hospital,” the bench comprising Chief Justice D B Bhonsale and Justice Yashwant Varma told state Additional Advocate General Manish Goel. It asked the government to place before court on August 29, the findings of its inquiry committee, if any constituted so far.
Alleging negligence by government agencies, the petitioners, including social activists and advocates who have made the state government and the Centre parties to the case, have urged the court to facilitate an impartial and independent probe into the deaths by a retired high court judge and the CBI.
The bench said the court was going to first hear the state government and if not satisfied with its response, it will constitute a separate probe committee to investigate the deaths.
Petitioners’ counsel K K Roy said: “We have raised the issue of lack of proper investigation because the state government, which is currently investigating the case, has been denying a case of negligence. Children have been dying for years due to the criminal neglect of the state government and health department.”
The petitioners pegged the number of lives claimed by Japanese Encephalitis in Gorakhpur and 12 neighbouring districts at over a lakh since 1978, when the disease was first reported in Gorakhpur.
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