High Court orders stipend for 6,140 endosulfan victims

Affected to get Rs 1,500 and Rs 3,000 a month based on their disability

High Court orders stipend for 6,140 endosulfan victims

The High Court on Monday passed an interim order directing the State government to pay a monthly stipend to the identified 6,140 victims affected by the insecticide endosulfan in three districts – Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Uttara Kannada – from March 1.

Additional Advocate General H Kantharaju submitted that a stipend of Rs 3,000 would be provided to the victims who are 60 per cent and above disabled, both physically and mentally, and Rs 1,500 for victims who are 25-60 per cent disabled. These amounts are inclusive of the monthly allowances given to persons with disability by the disability commission.

Hearing a suo motu petition, a division bench comprising Chief Justice D H Waghela and Justice B V Nagarathna passed the interim order directing the government to commence payment to the victims in the first week of every month beginning March 1.
Coming down heavily on the government's lack of interest in providing relief, Justice Waghela said, “For the tragedy that endosulfan has caused, in any civilised country billion of rupees of compensation could have been claimed.”

The bench directed the government to ensure accounts are opened in the victim's name by February 26 in the nearest bank accessible to the beneficiaries.

It said in case the beneficiary is a minor, or unable to operate a bank account, the parents, nearest of kin or guardians must be identified to ensure that necessary steps are taken.

Amicus curiae VaishaliHegde has submitted that a corpus amount of Rs 500 crore was required for the relief and rehabilitation of these victims. The bench adjourned the hearing to March 7.

During the hearing, M Madan Gopal, Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare Department, appeared before the court and said deformity in the foetus had to be genetically proved, and sought directions from the court to ask the Indian Council of Medical Research to conduct a genetic study.

He said a government medical college was already taking up a study on these victims. He submitted that a meeting would be held with the Deputy Commissioners of all the three affected districts to brief them on the steps taken by the government regarding relief. 

The bench, in its order, directed the government to form an expert team of doctors by February 28 to visit the victims every week, equipped to provide necessary medical aid. The court also directed the government, along with its healthcare personnel and with the help of NGOs like the Endosulfan Victims Welfare Foundation, to start working at the grass-roots level towards rehabilitation of the victims. It said the government should start issuing the victims smart cards for cashless services in private hospitals.

Justice Nagarathna asked the counsel representing the Central government if any funds were being utilised under the National Trust for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities, and directed the counsel to submit information regarding it.

Expressing anxiety over mobile scanning machines being misused to determine the gender of foetuses, leading to female foeticide, the bench observed that such crimes can be committed only by doctors who should be booked under a separate law.

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