India, High Court of Orissa, 23 March 2022, W.P. (C) PIL No. 17152 of 2021
Deciding body (English)
Type of body
Type of Court (material scope)
Type of jurisdiction
Type of Court (territorial scope)
Outcome of the decision
The Court in the present instance is dealing with the violation of the right to health of the victims guaranteed and protected under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The Court has held liable a State-run medical facility for medical negligence which caused the death of two COVID-19 patients. The Court ordered for the payment of ex-gratia and compensation to the victims and their families. The Court ordered compensation of Rs. 5lakhs and another 50,000 to be paid to the victims.
Facts of the case
A Petition was filed via a letter with the Orissa High Court, highlighting the health crisis and the mismanagement of COVID-19 in western Orissa. Attention was drawn to the alleged lack of proper medical facilities and irresponsible behavior of the medical professionals and authorities at a state-run facility while treating COVID-19 victims. In line with these allegations, an inquiry committee was formed to submit its report.
Type of measure challenged
Measures, actions, remedies claimed
Individual / collective enforcement
Nature of the parties
Type of procedure
Reasoning of the deciding body
The Court held that no person can be denied an adequate standard of medical care in Government health institutions. The excuse of lack of resources is not accepted. The Court found that the primary duty of a welfare state is to provide adequate medical facilities.
In the present case, the claim for compensation is for the violation of the fundamental rights of the two victims and is fully supported by the previous decisions of the Supreme Court of India.
In a welfare state, the primary duty of the Government is to secure the welfare of the people. Providing adequate medical facilities for the people is an essential part of the obligations undertaken by the Government in a welfare state. Article 21 imposes an obligation on the State to safeguard the right to life of every person. Preservation of human life is thus of paramount importance. The government hospitals run by the State and the medical officers employed therein are duty-bound to extend medical assistance in the preservation of human life. Failure on the part of a government hospital to provide a timely medical treatment to a person in need of such treatment results in the violation of his right to life guaranteed under Article 21.
Conclusions of the deciding body
The claim of the Petitioners was upheld.
With the facts having been objectively established, the Court awarded compensation for the deaths of two COVID-19 victims on account of medical negligence. The compensation amount as recommended by the Inquiry Authority of Rs.5 lakhs to be paid to the next of kin of each of the said two deceased appears reasonable. The Court accordingly ordered the State of Odisha to compensate the families of the two victims the sum of Rs.5lakhs each which should be apart from the ex-gratia sum of Rs.50,000/- which would also become payable. Additionally, the Court ordered that the ex-gratia payments of Rs.50,000 be made for all twelve victims for whom the affidavits were given to the Inquiry Authority.
Fundamental Right(s) involved
- Right to health (inc. right to vaccination, right to access to reproductive health)
- Right to life