NHRC issues show cause notice to J&K govt for compensation in infants' death cases

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Monday issued a show cause notice to the Jammu and Kashmir administration for compensation to the families of 11 children who died due to consumption of spurious medicines in Udhampur district between December 2019 and January this year.

The notice was issued to the Chief Secretary of the Union Territory, directing him to show cause within four weeks as to why the commission should not recommend payment of a compensation of Rs three lakh to the next of kin of each deceased whose human rights have been infringed.

Taking cognizance of the complaint made by Jammu-based social activist Sukesh C Khajuria, the NHRC also sought an action taken report against the delinquent officials, on account of whose negligence such incident has occurred, which could otherwise be averted due to their strict vigil .

In his petition, Khajuria had sought intervention of the Commission for action against the negligent government officials and compensation to the aggrieved families who have lost their children, aged between one and four years, in different areas of Ramnagar tehsil of the district.

Referring to the report submitted by Jammu and Kashmir government on July 1, the NHRC said the commission considered the report along with facts and circumstances of the case and it was found that there was a procedural lapse on the part of the Drug Department of Jammu & Kashmir wherein the authority had duly failed to keep a regular vigil on the contamination and contents of medicines sold within its jurisdiction.

The state (J&K) is vicariously liable for said negligence, it said.

In its reply to NHRC, Health and Medical Education department reported that the enforcement staff of the Drug and Food Control Organisation, J&K carried out the investigation in the matter of infant mortalities reported in Ramnagar.

The 33 samples of leftover/partially consumed medicines were collected. The Chief Scientist-CSIRIIIM Jammu on February 22 furnished final test reports of informal samples regarding parabens, Heavy Metals and Diethylene Glycol, the report said, adding, a case under relevant sections of the law was registered in Ramnagar police station.