STATE TIMES NEWS
JAMMU: A Division Bench (DB) of State High Court comprising Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Tashi Rabstan expressed displeasure over the act of government and directed Principal Secretary Health and Medical Education Department to appear in person on December 24, 2018, in a contempt petition filed by A.V Gupta in Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking directions to the State to provide basic health facilities for treatment of cancer in Jammu and Kashmir and to provide adequate number of oncologists, onco-surgeons, PET Scan Machines and all other experts in the relevant field for the aforesaid treatment in all the regions of the State.
After hearing Advocate Ajay Sharma appearing for the contempt petition, DB observed, “It is unfortunate that even the Court orders and pendency of the present contempt petition has not moved the State Government to undertake necessary action for procurement of the PET Scan machines.
In a province which has the population of more than one crore, it is difficult to comprehend as to why only one PET Scan machine is being installed. The respondents do not appear to have considered the importance of the PET Scan machines or the fact that the State covers an extensive geographical area and difficult topography and it may not be possible for the people living in remote areas to physically travel to undertake diagnostic steps or the follow up for the purposes of effective treatment”, the court observed.
“Two issues were dealt with by order dated February 17, 2016 passed in WPPIL No.21/2015 and extensive directions were made which can be summed up as the State Government was directed to get the services of Oncologists and to ensure availability of PET scan machines in all the Medical Colleges”, the court observed adding that by aforesaid order this Court had directed the State Government to get the services of Oncologists from neighboring States within two weeks. “Insofar as acquisition of PET scan machines in all Medical Colleges was concerned, this Court had granted a period of six months to do so”, the court held.
DB observed that these directions were not complied with resulting in filing of the present contempt petition and in these proceedings on September 7, 2017 this Court was informed by filing statement of facts by the respondents that the establishment of PET scan was under active consideration and that the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India had sanctioned two State Cancer Institutes, one each at SKIMS, Soura Srinagar and Government Medical College, Jammu at a cost of Rs. 240.00 crore. “On December 20, 2017, Dr. Pawan Kotwal, Principal Secretary to Government, Health and Medical Education Department informed this Court that a PET/CT machine stood installed at Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) in Srinagar and was ready for commissioning with all requisite medical staff. So far as Jammu was concerned, the equipment had not been procured because of the project itself had not been sanctioned by the Government of India”, the court observed. In this regard, Sandeep Gupta, CGSC has drawn court’s attention to the status report filed on September 17, 2018, wherein it has been stated, “The aforesaid proposal was examined in the Ministry in consultation with Directorate General of Health Services (Dte.GHS), the technical wing of the Ministry, and the deficiencies observed therein such as proposal not as per the format of the scheme, no Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) approvals, details regarding availability of Radiotherapist and Medical physicist, non-settlement of Utilization Certificate (UC) for previous grant-in-aid of Rs.2.00 crore released to the Institute during 2005-06, Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) etc. were communicated to the State Government vide this Ministry’s letter dated June 5, 2014 for fulfillment”.
“Rest of the status report points out failure of the Government of Jammu and Kashmir to complete the necessary formalities”, the court observed.
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