The Kerala High Court recently observed that the presumption that a person in financial requirement would only act for monetary gain, is an affront to the dignity of an individual and is against the constitutional imperatives.

The Single Judge Bench of Justice Devan Ramachandran was dealing with a Writ Petition filed by an individual with advanced renal failure urgently requiring an organ transplant, along with a former employee willing to donate the organ, challenging the Police Authority's denial of issuing a 'Letter of Altruism,' a mandatory statutory requirement.

Advocates K. Ramakumar and John Varghese appeared for the Petitioners while Government Pleader Sunil Kumar Kuriakose appeared for the Respondents.

It may be noted that the certificate of altruism serves as validation that the individual is acting without any personal gain, solely motivated by the satisfaction derived from giving.

The Petitioners before the High Court submitted that since the said letter has now been withheld, they have not been able to submit the relevant documents before the Local Level Authorization Committee for Renal Transplantation and sought a direction that the respondent be directed to accept all documents from them and forward the same, so as to enable the said Authority to take a final decision on their application.

The High Court was also apprised by Petitioner No.1 that she offered her organ to the 2nd petitioner for transplant as she worked with the petitioner's family for four years until the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted her employment. She also expressed her closeness to the family and gratitude for timely salaries and financial assistance for her daughter's education, she explained that her husband, initially interested in donating, became medically incapacitated after a fall and was moved by humanism and empathy, she decided to help the 2nd petitioner, currently facing a difficult condition.

On the other hand, the Government pleader submitted that even though the 1st petitioner says that she was working for the 2nd petitioner and his family as a homemaid, there were no phone calls between them for nearly a period of one year; and that this has been confirmed by verifying their Call Data Records (CDR). It was further submitted that, since the 1st petitioner seems to have a “poor financial income and they even don't have their own house” (sic), the Station House Officer has concluded that the offer for transplantation made by her “is not on the basis of fair interest” (sic) and, therefore, that a “Letter of Altruism” cannot be issued.

Considering the submissions, the High Court on the aspect of no phone calls from the past one year stated, "I must say that the last of the afore submissions of Sri.Sunil Kumar Kuriakose cannot appeal to me because, the 4th respondent has refused a “Letter of Altruism” purely on conjectures on the basis of the “CDR” of the 1st petitioner."

The Court also noted, "...this Court interacted with the 1st petitioner and her husband, with the consent of the learned counsel on both sides; and she unequivocally stated that she has come forward to donate her organ not for any financial gain, but solely out of humanism,since she and her husband have developed attachment to the 2nd petitioner and his family on account of their long association. She had made it limpid that she was not acting for money and that her dignity and self-esteem would not permit her to do so; and this was affirmed by her husband, who, in fact, said that it was he who wanted to donate, but has been incapacitated on account of a fall, which he suffered. Pertinently, both of them affirmed that the 2nd petitioner and his family had been extremely helpful to them, particularly their daughter, who is now 11 years of age and who had been offered assistance, whenever she required in her education and other purposes."

Further observing that the Police Officer acted upon certain surmises and conjectures, the High Court in its Judgement stated, "This Court has already declared in Soubiya v. District Level Authorisation Committee for Transplantation of Human Organs, Ernakulam [2023 (6) KHC 293], leaving no room for doubt that a presumption, that a person in financial requirement would only act for monetary gain, is an affront to the dignity of an individual and is against the constitutional imperatives."

The Judgement also observed that "This Court can never grant approval to such a sweeping statement; and, if police officers are allowed to make such conjectures, it would certainly hit at the bedrock of the constitutional imperatives of dignity and individual respect"

The High Court accordingly allowed the Petition and directed the DLAC to complete proceedings on the documents produced by the petitioners in terms of the interim order earlier and issue a final order adverting to the observations of this Court and without insisting on any “Letter of Altruism” to be produced.

Cause Title: Deepa P M & Anr. v. State Of Kerala & Ors. [WP(C) NO. 38624 OF 2023]

Click here to read/download the Judgement