High Court of Indore orders the State Government of Madhya Pradesh to improve maternal health care in Barwani District in HRLN PIL, Duna Bai vs, State of Madhya Pradesh


New Delhi – The Honorable High Court of Indore has issued an order to the State of Madhya Pradesh on its failure to implement the country National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) and the Indian Public Health Standards (IPHS) in Duna Bai vs. State of Madhya Pradesh (Writ Petition (C) 597 of 2011). The Public Interest Litigation (PIL), filed by HRLN advocates Anubha Rastogi and Smt. Shanno Shagufta Khan, was first filed in 2011 after a fact-finding team visited Barwani District in Madhya Pradesh’s Southeast region. The case arises out of the horrific story of Duna Bai’s daughter-in-law and two other women who died after they were denied access to acceptable delivery care at several public health facilities. The petition illustrates the State’s systematic failure to install adequate facilities and provide qualified doctors in Barwani District’s public healthcare system. Failures to implement maternal health strategies consistent with constitutional, statutory, and international obligations violate the reproductive rights of women and girls in Barwani district. Most recently, on 31st October, the High Court at Indore issued an order directing the Respondents to comply with several directives underscoring that the State must “consider the pin pointed deficiencies which been mentioned by the petitioner in their rejoinder...and to take adequate remedial measures without any delay.” With regards to staff shortages, the Court ordered that the Respondents must “consider and take an appropriate decision for granting adequate monetary remuneration and other incentives on posting in rural and tribal areas to ensure that the Doctors to not avoid such a posting.” The Court added that the Respondents “may also consider framing of such a Scheme which may attract the Doctors to work in rural and tribal areas.” Finally, in regards to a shortage of nurses, pharmacists, and ward boys, the Court directed the Respondents “to take expeditious action to fill up the vacant post” and report to the court. HRLN is currently working on a comprehensive fact-finding report of the violations witnessed during a two-week August fact-finding mission to Barwani District. The case is next listed for 17th January 2013. As a part of a nation-wide maternal mortality litigation strategy, HRLN will continue to hold the State of Madhya Pradesh accountable for its violations of women’s rights to life, health, and non-discrimination. The Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) is a collective of lawyers and social activists dedicated to the use of the legal system to advance human rights in India and the sub-continent. Visit hrln.org to learn more. For further information, please contact: Karla Torres Reproductive Rights Unit Email: karlatorreshrln@gmail.com 8130236848