Udhampur Infants Death: NHRC Closes Case After Govt Compensates Kin

Srinagar- The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has closed the case pertaining to the death of 12 infants due to spurious drugs in Udhampur district after government granted compensation to kin of victims.

According to reports, the NHRC closed the case of 12 infant deaths at Ramnagar, Udhampur after government transferred a compensation of Rs 3 lakh each to the parents of the deceased.

The commission in its proceedings on February 28observed that since the monetary compensation to the parents of the infant victims has been paid by the government as demanded by the petitioner, the case has been closed.

Earlier in September 2020, the Commission, after consideration of facts & circumstances of the case, had found that there was a procedural lapse on the part of the Drug Department of the government wherein the authority had duly failed to keep a regular vigil on the contamination and contents of medicines sold within its jurisdiction and thus held that the state is vicariously liable for said negligence.

Exercising power u/s 18a(i) of PHR Act, 1993, the Commission had directed the Chief Secretary, Govt. of Jammu & Kashmir to show cause within four weeks as to why the Commission should not recommend payment of compensation of Rs 3L to the next of kin (NoK) of each deceased in the present case, who died due to the consumption of adulterated oral syrup/medicine and whose human rights have been infringed.

The authority was further directed to also file report with regard to action taken against the delinquent officials, on account of whose negligence such incident had occurred, which could otherwise be averted due to their strict vigil.

Interestingly, The Health and Medical Education Department in its order No.:-711 – JK(HME) of 2021 issued on November 16 , 2021 said in compliance to order passed by NHRC in case No. 80/09/14/2020, a sanction was being accorded to the release of Rs.36 lakh for 12 deceased infant in Ramnagar area of District Udhampur, as a special and exceptional infant mortality case and its placement with the State drugs Controller, J&K , as compensation to Nok of each deceased ,subject to the outcome of SLP pending before the Supreme Court of India , following approval by the Administrative Council Decision No. 90/14/2021 headed by Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha in a meeting held on October 07,2021.

The compensation of Rs 3L each has been paid to the NOK of the 12 deceased infants by way of digital transfer into their accounts after NHRC issue final reminder to the Chief Secretary , Govt. of UT of J&K as well as Additional Chief Secretary , department of health & medical education, UT of J&K, to submit the proof of payment within six weeks positively falling which this commission (NHRC) constrained to invoke its coercive powers u/s 13 of PHR Act 1993 calling for the personal appearance of the authority concerned before the commission.

Sukesh .C.Khajuria, an eminent social activist had knocked at the NHRC to highlight the plight of the poor families of the deceased infants and alleged highhanded attitude of the drug authorities and the state government in hushing up the case without taking responsibility of the tragedy.

“Although, money cannot replace a human life but still can give some solace to the bereaved families who mostly are poor and I'm confident that Apex Court will also provide complete Justice to the victims under Article 142 of the Constitution of India. In all such deaths, punishment and compensation should be on the pattern of the tragedies of the Bhopal gas leak and Uphaar Cinema fire tragedy. We can't fix the monetary composition at ₹25 - ₹30 lakh in Delhi & other state/UT's and ₹3 Lakh in Jammu and Kashmir" Khajuria said.

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