HC awards compensation to 25 victims

In a significant judgement, the Orissa High Court on Tuesday directed the State Government to pay compensation to 25 persons who lost their eyesight (fully and partly) following a cataract surgery camp at Dharamgarh in Kalahandi district in 2010.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice V Gopalagowda and Justice BN Mohapatra has awarded Rs 2.5 lakh compensation to each of the 16 victims, who had lost their vision completely, and Rs? 1.75 lakh each to the rest who reported loss of eyesight to serious grades.

The Bench has also directed an inquiry by an officer not below the rank of a secretary into the functioning of the eye camp to find out the persons responsible for the incident and fix responsibility on the NGO which conducted the camp. The State Government will have the liberty to recover the amount from the NGO on the basis of the probe.

GUIDELINES: The Bench has also issued certain guidelines on conduct of such eye camps by NGOs in the State. The camps would be conducted under direct supervision and monitoring of the Government. The operations and treatment should be performed by experts with complete pre and post-operative care for the patients, the guideline stipulated.

The directives came in response to a PIL writ petition, filed by advocate and human rights activist Prabir Kumar Das, who alleged that 16 persons had gone blind due to faulty cataract surgery in an eye camp held by Sambalpur-based NGO JMJ Grace Vision at Dharamgarh sub-divisional hospital in Kalahandi district in September 2010.

An inquiry was earlier ordered by the Court which concluded that the patients had? lost eyesight due to lack of post- operative care. During the inquiry, nine persons apart from the listed 16, had filed affidavits complaining of losing eyesight due to post-operative complications.

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