In November 2014, 13 women lost their lives and 65 were left in a critical state after a sterilisation drive went horribly wrong, in Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh.
However, two years after the Bilaspur sterilisation tragedy, the Chhattisgarh High Court acquitted the accused doctor, RK Gupta on technical grounds last week.
The High Court in its 16-page verdict said, “the petitioner’s services were terminated on 13.11.2014 in respect of the offence which had occurred on 08.11.2014 and though the cognizance of which was taken later, it would still require sanction from the Govt. before the petitioner is prosecuted for those offences which clearly falls within the ambit of discharge of official duties. In the absence of obtaining prior sanction, the entire prosecution case becomes ab initio, void and becomes unsustainable.”
On November 8, 2014, Dr Gupta had conducted laparoscopic tubectomies on 83 women, within 90 minutes in an abandoned, unsterile building. He was arrested, but released on bail after 27 days of the incident.
The court’s decision is likely to be challenged.
“Sanction should have been granted by the state government for prosecution. Withholding sanction, simply, means the state government is supporting the doctor. Sanction can be granted even now and the prosecution can be started again. If the state foes not grant sanction, then any of the affected women can go to the high court and file a petition to get the order of sanction. It is shocking that the state government is supporting the doctor in this case,” Colin Gonsalves, lawyer appearing in the case, told The Hindu.