The Delhi High Court's Bench of Justice Sanjeev Narula has allowed the plea of a senior citizen seeking to access a portable ultrasound machine at his home to administer his medical treatment.

As per the petition, the Petitioner-Deepak Nirula, a 70-year-old senior citizen who is suffering from a debilitating illness called Progressive Supranuclear Palsy which attacks the brain and nerve cells, causing acute problems with balance, movement, vision, speech, is under domiciliary hospitalisation at his home, which is an arrangement akin to an ICU setting in tertiary care.

The Petitioner was aggrieved by the prohibition created by the provisions of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994 and a notification of the Delhi government which prevented him from accessing the ultrasound machine which was required immediately to administer the prescribed medical treatment.

Advocate Vaibhav Gaggar appearing for the petitioner stated that a portable ultrasound machine was available at the Fortis Hospital, Vasant Kunj and that the hospital was agreeable to transporting the said machine to the residence of the Petitioner, if the Court were to pass such a direction.

On the other hand, Advocate Rishikesh Kumar, for GNCTD, cited the provisions of the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act (PNDT) which prevent the removal of an ultrasound machine along with the afore-noted Notification issued by the Government of NCT of Delhi.

The Court held that the legal provisions cited cannot be interpreted in such a manner so as to deprive the Petitioner of a treatment that was urgently required as per the advice of the concerned doctors.

The Court observed thus "The purpose of enacting the PNDT Act was to prevent the misuse of ultrasound machines for sex determination; however, in extraordinary circumstances, the Courts can always make an exception on the use of the ultrasound machinery. The Court prima facie finds that Petitioner's right to life guaranteed by the Constitution of India would be violated, if the provisions of the PNDT Act are interpreted in a manner that prevents him from accessing essential medical equipment."

The Court noted that the petitioner was not in a position to be transported to a location where the machine is available. Therefore the Court held that the afore-noted provisions of the PNDT Act and the Notification of the Government of NCT of Delhi, cannot come in his way.

The Court also noted that "It also merits noting that the rationale for introduction of the said prohibitory provisions in the PNDT Act was in the context of prevention of the social evil of pre-natal sex determination, which is very far removed from the facts of the instant case"

Therefore, the Court directed thus "…the Court is satisfied that the Petitioner is entitled to the relief as sought for in the present petition. Accordingly, the Director, Fortis Hospital, Vasant Kunj, is directed to transport an ultrasound machine to the residence of the Petitioner forthwith. The Petitioner shall bear all charges and cost of such transportation."

Cause title- Deepak Nirula v. Union of India & Ors.

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