Meghalaya High Court: The Division Bench of Ranjit More, CJ. and H.S.Thangkhiew, J., took up a petition which prayed for the following:
- a writ in the nature of mandamus directing the Respondent’s authorities to utilize the amount of Rs. 19.84 crore received by the State Respondents and to constitute inquiry as to the in-ordinate delay in completion of the Cancer Treatment Centre at Civil Hospital, Shillong till date for the non-proper utilization of funds amounting to Rs. 26.16 crore sanctioned by the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), Government of India.
- a writ in the nature of mandamus directing the State Respondents to establish an Oncology Department in the various District Hospitals of the state so as to ensure the easy access of treatment to the cancer patients of the state.
- a writ in the nature of mandamus directing the Respondents to improve the quality of cancer care treatment in their respective hospitals and also to strengthen the Community Health Centres (CHCs) and Primary Health Centres (PHCs) in early diagnosis and screening according to the Operational Guidelines of the National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease & Stroke (NPCDCS), to establish Tertiary Cancer Care in the various districts and also to appoint specialist in the different oncology department of the respondents hospitals providing cancer treatment to the patients.
- a writ in the nature of mandamus directing the Respondents to make cancer as a notifiable disease and to conduct mass awareness programmes or outreach programmes in sensitizing people about the various causes of cancer and the importance of early diagnosis.
- a writ in the nature of mandamus directing the Respondents to include the remaining seven District of the states i.e. West Garo Hills (Tura), East Jaintia Hills (Khliehriat), East Garo Hills (Williamnagar), South Garo Hills (Baghmara), South West Garo Hills (Ampati), South West Khasi Hills (Mawkyrwat) and North Garo Hills (Resubelpara) in the State Population Based Cancer Registry (PCRB) programme so as to acquire the accurate data of patients suffering from the disease.
- a writ in the nature of mandamus directing the state respondents to create a component under MHIS or a separate cancer patients fund for providing speedy, effective and better financial aid to the cancer patients of the state.
- a writ in the nature of prohibition and mandamus directing the State Respondents not to allow the advertising agencies to publicly display any advertisements which will affect the health and safety of the people of the state especially the minors.
The petitioner contended that there was arbitrary and inordinate delay on the part of the respondents in establishing a comprehensive and modern cancer care facilities in the State of Meghalaya even after attaining forty-nine years of Statehood and that non-availability of a comprehensive Cancer Hospital and failure of the respondents to strengthen and establish screening centres for early detection and treatment of cancer in the Community Health Centres and Primary Health Centres have caused serious inconveniences and financial problems to the citizens of the State.
It was further grievance of the petitioner that though the Department of Atomic Energy, Government of India had sanctioned Rs.26.16 crore for establishment of a Cancer Treatment Centre at Civil Hospital, Shillong, however, due to lapses and negligence on the part of the concerned authorities, out of the amount of Rs.19.84 crore received by the State respondents, only Rs.9.77 crore of Utilization Certificates were furnished to the Government of India. The petitioner had also made grievance about the implementation of the Megha Health Insurance Scheme in the State of Meghalaya. In this regard, he contends that though the said scheme provides for financial aid amounting to Rs.5,00,000/- (Rupees Five lakhs) to all the citizens of the State, however, due to non-availability of the Cancer Hospital and medicines in the State, the said scheme has remained on paper only.
The Court was of the opinion that the issues in the PIL were of serious concern and the respondents needed to respond to the same, issuing a notice to the respondents.[Lurshaphrang Shongwan v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine Megh 205, order dated: 28-10-2021]
Advocates before the Court:
For the Petitioner/Appellant(s): In-person with Mr AG.Momin, Adv.
For the Respondent(s): Dr N.Mozika, Sr. Adv. With Ms T.Sutnga, Adv.