Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
When a welfare verdict by higher judiciary goes barren, and the fellows responsible for rendering it barren go unpunished, the verdict looks like mere wordy acrobatics.
Sadly, welfare verdicts of Orissa High Court are going barren and the Court has no monitoring mechanism to stop it.
This serious syndrome needs cogitation; because, increase in number of barren verdicts may diminish the revered authority of judiciary in eyes of the public.
Instantly, cognizance on a case of HIV infection through transfusion of infected blood, despite the Court’s order in a similar case lying barren, attracts our attention.
In these pages, on 8 July 2012, we have discussed the earlier case and showed how the High Court’s direction issued on 28 July 2011 in W.P.(C) No.13441 of 2009 to ensure supply of safe blood to patients under treatment has not been implemented despite lapse of a year.
Now a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed by Advocate Prabir Das in the Orissa High Court seeking compensation for a woman allegedly infected with AIDS after receiving HIV positive blood obtained from an official blood bank.
Blood Banks: the breeding centers of AIDS
There are presently 57 official Blood Banks in Orissa, manned and managed by the State Government under the banner of the Red Cross.
The transaction of blood through these blood banks comes around 2.8 lakh units per annum.
Screening of blood to determine if the donor is AIDS affected is being conducted in the old method of Rapid and ELISA. When no lab records are auto-generated for verification and reference in the Rapid method, ELISA testing generates the records which at least can be verified. But, in as many as 20 of the 57 government blood banks, there is no ELISA machine and Rapid is the only method in practice there, leaving the screening to assumption only.
But the ELISA test is also not competent to detect dreaded viruses of HIV, as discussed in the earlier article, during the window period.
Not only HIV, but also other dreaded viruses like Hepatitis B and C are also transmitted through blood.
These three most dreaded viruses escape detection in ELISA and Rapid tests during window period. The latest method therefore is PCR/NAT. Orissa has not woken up to this. Hence, blood banks have become breeding centers of AIDS and Hepatitis.
Concern of the Court
Expressing serious concern over a 17 month boy getting infected with AIDS by receiving HIV positive blood, the High Court of Orissa, in its order referred to above, had issued clear orders for immediate adoption of PCR/NAT method for blood screening exactly one year ago.
But the State Government is a habitual offender of Court orders, if, specifically, they are welfare orders, meant to give benefits to all and everybody including and beyond the partyline of the case. It rendered the order barren.
Yet, the same barren order and discussion thereon in these pages has inspired the present PIL.
Taking cognizance of the PIL, the Court has issued notice on Thursday to the State Government through authorities named in the petition asking them to respond within two weeks.
And, if the case is true that the infection has come to the woman through transfusion of infected blood, the order is expected to the same as the earlier order that has remained a barren order till date.
At this stage, we deem it proper to insist that the Court should not issue any more barren orders.
The order in W.P.(C) No.13441 of 2009 is one year old. Had it been implemented, we are sure, spread of AIDS through HIV infected blood, transfused as safe blood within the window period, could have stopped and most probably, the present case would not have arisen.
Let verdicts be not wordy acrobatics
So, we insist that the High Court, while delivering the judgment in the instant PIL, should take steps to eliminate every possibility of its oder being rendered barren.
It should fortify its order with specific punishment against the Minister concerned – because under Rules of Business a Minister is the chief executive of the department under his control – for non-implementation of the order while having stipulated specific time for its implementation in contravention of which the punishment should automatically be enforced.
And, simultaneously, as the present PIL is bound to rely upon the earlier order in W.P.(C) No.13441 of 2009, we insist that the court should restore the same case to file to pronounce appropriate punishment against rendering of the order therein barren and pending decision in the present PIL, issue a mandamus for instant adoption of PCR/NAT technology in all the blood banks – public and private – for screening of blood to save human lives.
The High Court may please constitute a permanent body of its own, comprising one of its own Registrars, or, if paucity of hands becomes the barrier, a small combine of lawyers and accredited scribes, with powers to monitor the implementation of its welfare orders or mandamuses like the one in the Writ case referred to above and to keep the Court apprised of every stage of implementation thereof for its further action.
Otherwise, welfare verdicts may look like wordy acrobatics and nothing else.