New Delhi: The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) has issued notice to the Union health secretary and director of AIIMS, New Delhi over a petition that seeks to prevent the shifting of the conjoined twins from Odisha, who were separated after a surgery, from the premier medical institute here to its Bhubaneswar branch.
The petition has been filed by Supreme Court lawyer and human rights activist Radhakanta Tripathy. The petition claims that AIIMS, Bhubaneswar does not have the infrastructure required for the care and treatment of the twins — Jaga and Balia.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has now asked the health ministry and AIIMS to submit the facts and information on the action taken on the matter within 15 days.
“A petition/complaint has been received by the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes from Radhakanta Tripathy and the commission has decided to investigate and inquire into the matter, in pursuance of the powers conferred upon it under Article 338A of the Constitution of India.
“You are hereby requested to submit the facts and information on the action taken on the allegations/matters to the undersigned within 15 days of receipt of this notice either by post or in person or by any other means of communication,” the notice read.
It further stated that in case the commission did not receive the reply within the stipulated time, it might exercise the powers of a civil court and issue summons for the appearance in person or by a representative before it.
Earlier this month, the NHRC had written to the AIIMS director, seeking information on the issue.
The petition said the twins from Milipada village in Odisha’s Kandhamal region were likely to be sent back to the state, but the Odisha government was not “equipped” to treat the 31-month-old boys, who underwent a surgery at the AIIMS here for the separation.
“The state government is not well equipped for their treatment in the state. Had that been the case, the operation could have been done in the state itself,” Tripathy said in his petition.
It added that the health condition of the twins, who have been staying at the AIIMS since the operation along with their parents, had to improve further before they could be sent to Odisha.
“Once they…(are) sent back to Odisha, where the infrastructure and ancillary and incidental facilities are lacking, there shall be an imminent threat to their lives.
“The facts and circumstances of the case also pose questions regarding the right to health and basic human rights of not only the kids, but the entire family,” the petitioner said, adding that unless the commission intervened, the “poor, uneducated ST family shall be deprived of justice”.
The petition further pointed out that of the twins, only Jaga was stable while Balia was not and that their parents had requested the Odisha government to ask the AIIMS authorities to allow the children to stay in the hospital for some more months until they were fully fit to be shifted.
“Therefore, you are kindly requested to direct the Director, AIIMS to ensure a healthy stay of the twins with proper check-ups till they get fully fit,” it said.
On February 26, a team of doctors from Odisha had visited the twins to assess if they could be taken to AIIMS, Bhubaneswar for follow-up treatment.
Jaga and Balia were craniopagus conjoined twins — joined at the head — which, doctors said, was a very rare occurrence. They were successfully separated after a 21-hour-long surgery at the AIIMS here in October last year.
The first phase of the surgery on the twins was performed on August 28 last year, when the doctors created a venous bypass to separate the veins that returned blood to the heart from the brain.
The final separation of the twins was performed by a team of around 30 specialists from the premier medical institute’s neurosurgery, neuro-anaesthesia and plastic surgery departments on October 25 last year.