Bombay HC Comes To Aid Of Woman Forced To Deliver On Railway Station
What could be termed as the gruesome violation of maternal rights and the accessibility of services to poor pregnant women, a woman’s infant child died soon after birth as she was forced to deliver at a railway platform in Mumbai. The incident happened on January 29, 2009 when Aariya Khan, who had already lost two children to the process of childbirth, was denied admission by a city hospital when she approached it being in an advanced stage of labour. The next facility she went to refused to assist her, stating that it did not deal with obstetrics. The medical staff at the clinic, in a most inhumane way, even neglected to arrange for her transportation to another hospital. Ultimately, and to the disgrace of humanity, Aariya Khan had no other option but to deliver the child at the Borivali railway station platform. After some time, the railway police constables admitted her to Bhagwati Hospital. Despite the fact that Aariya and her baby were exposed to a range of infections at the railway station, were undernourished, and had developed rashes while in the hospital, very surprisingly, the hospital discharged the two after merely four days. Her child died soon thereafter. Hearing about the incident, on November 26, 2009, the India Centre for Human Rights & Law (ICHRL) filed a PIL in the Bombay High Court against the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM), and all the parties responsible, regarding the issue of maternal mortality and the accessibility and delivery of services to poor pregnant women. Noting the negligence of the aforementioned medical facilities, as well as the inability of the state to provide care for poor, pregnant women, ICHRL prayed to High Court to direct: (a) The Respondents to provide immediate emergency medical assistance to all poor pregnant women, including those who do not have a BPL card and/or cannot afford to pay for care (b) Gurukrupa Hospital, Sunder Clinic, and Bhagwati Hospital to pay compensation to Ms. Aariya Khan for negligent care and the death of her child (c) MCGM, the state government, and the central government take disciplinary action against the staff at Gurukrupa Hospital and Sunder Clinic. (d) MCGM, the state government, and the central government to abide by the National Rural Health Mission 2005-2012 for all pregnant women and lactating mothers in urban areas (e) MCGM and the state and central governments to pay all pregnant women according to the provisions set out in the Janani Suraksha Yojana Scheme, the National Maternity Benefits Scheme, and the Orders of the Supreme Court dated November 28, 2001, December 13, 2006, and April 22, 2009 in Writ Petition No. 196 of 2001. (f) All the Respondents to implement the government’s directions regarding the provision of free beds, food, and treatment for all those below the poverty line On February 4, 2010, the High Court issued an order, noting MCGM’s reply, which argued that as per the provisions of the “Janani Suraksha Yojana”, the Rs 600 afforded to all pregnant women is given only for their first two deliveries. The High Court ordered the state and central governments, which had hitherto been unresponsive, to file their replies. On August 5, the state argued “women in labour is not a medical emergency, as the time lag from the conception to delivery is nine months ”. The state also claimed that it has various schemes for pregnant women under NRHM provided they have below poverty cards. The Court, in turn, questioned the reach of the government schemes to those who have no identity cards. The High Court further ordered both the private hospitals to show cause as to why interim relief was not granted to Ms. Aariya Khan. It also ordered Bhagwati Hospital to make available all relevant medical records of the victim and her child. The matter is subjudice.