Sunday, January 29, 2012

[HumJanenge] RTI Disclosure: "Health dept takes a year to prepare autopsy report"

Health dept takes a year to prepare autopsy report

28 January 2012

shiba nanda basu
KOLKATA, 28 JAN: Doctors in the state took over a year to prepare, and give relatives, the autopsy report of a young man who died in a road accident in October 2009.
His father, who is now in his 60s, ran from pillar to post looking for the report. Without it, his son's family who live in Mograhat village in South 24-Parganas, had been unable to apply for payment of his life insurance.

The father was finally handed the report in November 2010 after he filed a Right to Information Act (RTI) appeal.

In addition, in June 2011, the state information commission told the state health department to give Rs 10,000 in compensation to the next of kin.

The commission also held an inquiry, during which they found some bizarre irregularities. The hearing report reads, "The Commission is distressed to note that whereas the post mortem was conducted on 7 October 2009, the report was written by the concerned doctor only on 18 October 2010, after the lapse of one year."

For some reason, the report was also backdated. It was signed with the date as 7 October 2009. The Commission stated that it will "bring the case to the attention of the health and family welfare department for taking appropriate action."

The youth, whose name has been withheld by the family, died in a road accident in Mograhat in South 24-Parganas on 7 October 2009. The post-mortem was done the same day at Calcutta Medical College and Hospital. The washed body was then handed to the next of kin for cremation. But, even after repeated requests, health officials failed to hand over the autopsy report for over a year.

The boy's father, Mr Shaukat Gazi, wrote to the state public information officer and the chief medical officer of health to try to get the certified post-mortem report under the Right to Information Act (RTI). That was on 16 July 2010. But he didn't get any response.

Two months later, Mr Gazi appealed to the special secretary of the health and family welfare department, the RTI appellate authority for the department. The appellate authority then asked the local chief medical officer of health and the medical superintendent of Diamond Harbour Sub-divisional Hospital to give the report to Mr Gazi.

Another month passed and Mr Gazi was told by the superintendent to go and get the report from the Mograhat Police Station in South 24-Parganas. So he went to the police station, and was finally given the report there in November 2010.

Angry that it had taken so long for him to get the report and claiming that he was harrassed, Mr Gazi filed a second appeal on 14 February 2011, asking for the health officials to be punished as they had violated the RTI Act by not handing over the autopsy report. The state information commission heard the matter on 28 June 2011, subsequently ordering that the department pay compensation to the next of kin.

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