Devika Biswas vs Union of India - Supreme Court
Devika Biswas vs Union of India - Supreme Court Important Judgment 2016 -
On 14th September, 20016, in the case of Devika Biswas vs Union of India & Ors. [Writ Petition (Civil) No. 95 of 2012], while examining important issues concerning the entire range of conduct and management, under the auspices of State Governments, of sterilization procedures wherein women and occasionally men are sterilized in camps or in accredited centres, and also pre-operation procedures and post-operative care or lack of it, the Supreme court issued a number of directives.
It was inter alia directed that the “State-wise, district-wise or region-wise panel of doctors approved for carrying out the sterilization procedure, must be accessible through the website of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of the Government of India as well the corresponding Ministry or Department of each State Government and each Union Territory” and the “list should contain all necessary particulars of each doctor and not merely the name and designation”. The Court also emphasized on the requirement of ensuring that a proposed patient gives “an informed consent for undergoing the sterilization procedure and not an incentivized consent.”
Further, while directing the Union of India to ensure strict adherence to the guidelines and standard operating procedures in the various manuals issued by it, the Court held that “the Sterilization program is not only a Public Health issue but a national campaign for Population Control and Family Planning. The Union of India has overarching responsibility for the success of the campaign and it cannot shift the burden of implementation entirely on the State Governments and Union Territories on the ground that it is only a public health issue.” Also, directing the Union of India to take a decision on or before 31st December, 2016 on whether it would like to frame a National Health Policy or not, the Court observed that “in case the Union of India thinks it worthwhile to have a National Health Policy, it should take steps to announce it at the earliest and keep issues of gender equity in mind as well.”