The Chattisgarh High Court on June 10 took suo moto notice of a newspaper report highlighting a distressing incident where a woman had to deliver her baby on the floor of the Ambikapur Sub Health Centre due to the absence of doctors and nurses.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice Ramesh Sinha and Justice Sachin Singh Rajput condemned the incident, describing it as "a very sorry state of affairs."

"It is a very sorry state of affair if the aforesaid is the situation prevailing at Sub Health Centre, Navanagar, Ambikapur," the Bench remarked.

The Court further said, "When the State Government is incurring a huge amount of money for providing medical facilities to the public at large residing in the remotest part of the State, and the authorities and the staff who are responsible to manage the affairs of the Health Centres are themselves are absent and missing when they are needed the most, the State ought to take some stringent measures."

The Public Interest Litigation has been registered on the basis of a news report published in ‘Times of India’ Raipur Edition on June 10, 2024, with the headline ‘Woman delivers baby on floor in Ambikapur’s SHC’.

The Division Bench's attention was drawn to a news report detailing the ordeal of a 25-year-old pregnant woman who delivered her baby on the floor of the Navanagar Sub Health Centre in Surguja District (Ambikapur) on June 8, 2024, without any medical personnel present. According to the report, the woman, accompanied by a community health worker (Mitanin), arrived at the centre in labor. However, no doctor or nurse was available to assist, forcing the woman to give birth on the floor.

The report further mentioned that the woman's family tried to contact the medical staff but received no response. The Mitanin eventually assisted in the delivery, and postnatal care was provided by a traditional midwife from the village, as only a Class IV employee was present at the health centre. The newspaper also noted that this was not an isolated incident at the facility.

Additional Advocate General (AAG) Yashwant Singh Thakur, appearing for the State of Chattisgarh, informed the Bench that action has been taken against the concerned medical officer, an inquiry has been ordered, and he has been placed under suspension with immediate effect. So far, the nurse who was on duty is reported to have met with an accident; however, no documents with respect to the same have been filed.

Expressing grave concern, the Court directed the Secretary of the Government of Chhattisgarh's Health and Social Welfare Department to file a personal affidavit detailing the steps taken in response to the incident. Additionally, the Court directed the Secretary to halt the further circulation of a video of the incident that had gone viral online.

"In view of the above, the respondent No. 2 i.e. the Secretary, Government of Chhattisgarh, Health and Social Welfare Department, Raipur, is directed to ile his personal affidavit regarding the steps which have been taken with respect to the incident and further to ensure that the video which has been made viral online is also stopped immediately from being circulated any further. The Secretary shall also inform this Court with regard to the steps, if any, taken by him with regard to posting any other medical officer at the said Sub Health Centre as the delinquent Medical Officer concerned has already been placed under suspension because of the aforesaid incident," the Court said.

Accordingly, the Court scheduled the matter for further hearing on June 14.

Cause Title: Suo Moto Public Interest Litigation regarding “Woman delivers baby on floor in Ambikapur’s SHC v. State Of Chhattisgarh & Others

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