The Orissa High Court last week appointed a three member advocates Committee in order to ascertain the living conditions and medical facilities available to leprosy patients living in Leprosy colonies in the State.
A division bench bench comprising of Chief Justice S Muralidhar and Justice S.K. Panigrahi was dealing with a PIL seeking directions to the State authorities for effective implementation of the National Leprosy Eradication Programme (NLEP) and also to appoint a high level committee to submit a report, thereby enabling the Court to issue directions on composite post management treatment and eradication of leprosy form the State.
Observing that there is no indication in the responses filed by the State regarding the compliance of directions of the Supreme Court judgment in Pankaj Sinha v. Union of India (2014) 16 SCC 390, the Court ordered thus:
"No clear picture has emerged on the exact number of leprosy affected persons in the State of Odisha, district-wise as of date. Also, there is no clarity on the facilities available in every district to the leprosy affected persons and whether the various interventions by the State and the Centre have had any positive impact and have resulted in a reduction of the incidence of leprosy."
The Court therefore appointed a three members committee comprising of Senior Advocate Gautam Mishra, Advocates B.P. Tripathy and Pami Rath tasked with the responsibility to visit the leprosy colonies and Leprosy Home and to interact with the inmates and ascertain the issues faced by them.
The Committee is also tasked to ascertain whether the interventions by way of NLEP and the State programmes have had a positive effect on them.
The Court also directed the Committee members to interact with the trained leprosy workers or paramedical workers who are catering to the needs of the inmates in the said colonies and also with the families of such patients to understand their immediate and long term needs.
"The Committee will try and interact with also interact with the independent health professionals for their perspectives, inputs and suggestions which can then be incorporated in the report." The Court directed.
Additionally, the Court also directed Director, Health Services, Odisha to file an affidavit highlighting the exact figures on the following aspects:
- Prevalence of leprosy of both varieties.
- Status of compliance with each of the directions issued in Pankaj Sinha as far as Odisha is concerned.
- Status of availability of treatment, beds, drugs (including MDT) at the various hospitals, PHCs, health care centres in urban and rural locations.
- Status of filling up of vacant posts of medical officers and staff.
"The situation in the ground however underwent little change. The present petition appears to mirror the concerns voiced in a petition filed in the Supreme Court of India under Article 32 of the Constitution in 2014 by Sri Pankaj Sinha." The Court observed at the outset.
The matter will now be heard on September 2.
Title: Sri Bipin Bihari Pradhan v. State of Odisha and others