The Supreme Court on Wednesday told the Centre to decide by December 31 and announce if it would frame a National Health Policy or not.
“We have already expressed our sadness at the fact that the National Health Policy has not yet been finalised despite the passage of more than one-and-half years. We direct 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,” a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Uday U Lalit said.
The bench added that in case the Centre “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.”
Disposing of a PIL by activist Devika Biswas that had highlighted medical negligence causing botched-up sterilisation surgeries in several states, the bench also issued a slew of directives and asked the Centre and states to strengthen primary health care centres and stop holding sterilisation camps.
‘Show some dignity’
“It is time that women and men are treated with respect and dignity and not as mere statistics in the sterilisation programmes. Every death or failure or complication related to the sterilisation procedure is a setback not only to the patient and his or her family but also in the implementation of the national campaign,” the bench said, noting that 363 deaths have taken place due to sterilization procedures during 2010-2013.
It also asked the governments to enhance the quantum of compensation fixed under the Family Planning Indemnity Scheme (FPIS).