Orissa High Court grants compensation to a woman who conceived after sterilisation

Orissa High Court

   

Orissa High Court | Arindam Sinha, J. criticised the State for not following the procedure and granted compensation to a woman who conceived even after being sterilised by the State.

The petitioner underwent sterilisation operation on 02-01-2014, organised by the State. The petitioner had given an undertaking that if she misses her menstrual cycle, she was to report to the clinic, to which she did not. Eventually she was found to be pregnant. Being harmed by carelessness and unable to shoulder the costs of raising the kid, she petitioned the High Court for compensation from the State.

Counsel for petitioner Mr. Arjun Behera relied on “Standards for Female and Male Sterilization Services issued in October, 2006” by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. Under Standards for Female sterilization, there is subheading 1.4.2 on Clinical Assessment and Screening of Clients, to be made prior to the operation. Clause-b under the sub-heading has entry-v, which says as under.

“Menstrual history: Date of last menstrual period and current pregnancy status.”

He made use of an Family Planning Indemnity Plan that the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of India, through the Family Planning Division, released in October 2013 and which offers coverage upto Rs 30, 000 in the event of failure of sterilization . He emphasized that this process had to be followed in advance of the operation. After failing to cooperate, the State cannot now claim that the child was delivered full term in an attempt to prove that his client was pregnant at the time the sterilization procedure was carried out.

The court was informed that the petitioner’s last menstrual period occurred on 22-12-2013, and her sterilization procedure took place on 02-01-2014. The petitioner had agreed that she would go to the clinic and seek medical termination of pregnancy if she missed her menstrual period right away following the surgery. Counsel for respondent Mr. Sailaja Nanda Das stated that since the petitioner hasn’t done so, she is no longer able to claim that the process failed and thus, is not liable to seek compensation.

The Court noted that the State appeared to have failed to enquire about the petitioner’s current pregnancy status prior to completing the sterilisation surgery. The Court further ruled that the State’s counterclaim did not directly dispute the petitioner’s assertions. The Chief District Medical Officer was cited as having testified to the counter as an affidavit. It was ruled that the doctor’s evasive denial was insufficient to persuade the court to disbelieve the petitioner’s assertions.

Thus, the Court granted compensation at par with limit as mentioned in the Indemnity Plan of Rs 30,000 alongwith Rs 20,000 which must be paid to the petitioner within three week of communication and this money is to be spent on the benefit of the child.

[Shriya Channchan v. State of Orissa, 2022 SCC OnLine Ori 1156, decided on 24-06-2022]


Advocates who appeared in this case :

Mr. Arjuna Ch. Behera, Advocate, for the Petitioner;

Mr. Sailaja Nanda Das, Advocate, for the Respondent.

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