An independent inquiry by a retired district judge has been ordered into alleged negligence or lack of timely medical treatment of patients at VIMSAR, Burla in Sambalpur district during the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic.
A division bench of Orissa High Court comprising Chief Justice S Muralidhar and Justice Savitri Ratho passed the order on July 7 while hearing a petition filed by Gyanadutta Chouhan of Bargarh.
Chouhan had filed nine affidavits of persons whose close relatives purportedly suffered on account of lack of proper or timely treatment at the Veer Surendra Sai Institute of Medical Sciences and Research during Covid-19 pandemic.
The affidavits stated that ‘the victims did not receive the requisite medical treatment at VIMSAR and that needless deaths had occurred as a result thereof.’
The HC bench underlined that the issues flagged in the letter of the petitioner as well as the affidavits of the nine deponents raise serious questions involving the fundamental right to health which is an inherent part of right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution.
“The Court considers it appropriate to direct that an independent inquiry by a retired District Judge be held in Sambalpur itself to elicit the complete facts and submit a report to this Court on completion of such inquiry,” the bench added.
The court has appointed former district judge A.B.S. Naidu as Inquiry Officer to examine the allegations of medical negligence in the treatment of the victims.
The bench has directed the inquiry officer to conclude the probe within three months and submit report by November 1, 2021.
The court has further said the incidental expenses of the Inquiry Officer in conducting the enquiry and his functioning shall be borne by the Government of Odisha as per the bills raise on actual basis without any delay.
The court has listed the next hearing on November 8 for further directions.
According to sources, a petitioner who hails from Kendbahal in Bargarh district had sent an e-mail to the Orissa HC on May 23, 2021 highlighting lack of proper medical facilities at VIMSAR. He alleged that the medical professionals and authorities in charge of VIMSAR’s management had behaved irresponsibly and displayed insensitivity to the plight of the Covid19 victims.
Following the order of the court, a three-member Committee comprising Sambalpur CDM and PHO, Sambalpur Municipal Corporation (SMC) Commissioner and the ADM (Revenue) conducted an inquiry and submitted a report on May 26.
In the report, the Committee broadly stated that there was no shortage of medicine and no lack of proper treatment or facilities.
However, the petitioner had filed a replay disputing the findings of the inquiry report submitted by the three senior medical professionals.
Speaking abort the latest probe order by Orissa HC, Chouhan said, “More people died due to lack of treatment, ICUs and oxygen than the Covid-19. Patients suffered due to carelessness of the government. Therefore, I had filed the PIL and court has taken serious note of it.”