The Delhi High Court has prescribed timelines to be followed by the Authorisation Committee under the Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Rules, 2014, for document completion, scheduling interviews and decision-making.

The Bench of Justice Prathiba M Singh observed that, "The suggested timelines above are provided as a reference for the competent authority, enabling them to take an informed decision in this matter. Furthermore, the competent authority is expected to issue a proper communication to all stakeholders, prescribing timelines and ensuring their adherence."

In furtherance, it was said that, "Let the present judgment be placed before the Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare so as to ensure that timelines under the 1994 Act and 2014 Rules are prescribed for all the steps in the process of consideration of applications for organ donation, after consultation with the relevant stakeholders."

Counsel Charu Aneja appeared for the petitioners, while Counsel Subhash Kumar, along with others, appeared for the respondents.

In December 2018, a Gurgaon Hospital recommended a preemptive renal transplant for the petitioners. Despite providing necessary documents to the hospital, a decision was not made, leading the petitioners to approach the High Court. On February 24, 2021, the High Court instructed the Authorisation Committee to decide within two weeks. By October 2021, the petitioner had passed away, but the Court continued the case, focusing on setting timelines for organ transplantation stages.

The Central government stated that the Authorisation Committee must decide within seven working days of receiving all documents. The petitioners argued that the lack of timelines for the committee's interviews causes delays. Referring to Rule 7 of the 2014 Rules, the petitioner emphasized that indefinite adjournments lead to prolonged suffering for patients.

The Court noted the urgency in organ donation approvals under the Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Act, 1994. It found that not adhering to timelines resulted in unjustified waiting periods of two to three years, contradicting the Act's and Rules's intent.

Subsequently, it was recommended that timelines ought to be fixed for the following steps:

Documentation Completion:

• Within the prescribed timeline under the 2014 Rules, any opportunity given to the donor or recipient to complete the required documentation must be communicated.

• The donor or recipient should be given a maximum of one week to respond.

• If further opportunities need to be given, the same ought to be given after due consideration, with a strict deadline.

• Upon expiry of this timeline, the case should be presented to the Authorisation Committee.

Scheduling Interviews by the Authorisation Committee:

• After 4 to 6 weeks from receiving the application, the interview ought to be scheduled within a 2-week period.

• During the above 2-week window, the Authorisation Committee ought to:

- Conduct the interview of the donor/recipient on one or two occasions.

- Facilitate a meeting of family members of both the donor and the recipient.

- Convey the decision as per Rule 23 of the 2014 Rules.

• The entire process, from submission to decision, ought not to ideally exceed 6 to 8 weeks.

Appeal Process:

• Under Rule 33, any appeal against an order should be decided within a maximum of 30 days.

Cause Title: Amar Singh Bhatia & Anr. vs Sir Ganga Ram Hospitals & Anr.

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