CAPD leaves lepers high and dry

Srinagar: Since November 2013, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution Department (CAPD) have stopped supplies of rice and Atta (flour) to homes, housing neglected sections of society, the lepers.
Taking strong note of it, a division bench of Chief Justice M M Kumar and Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar has directed the CAPD to ensure regular supplies of all food items including the rice and Atta to leper homes.
“In case, the status report is not filed, Secretary CAPD shall remain present in person on next date of hearing,” the court said.
The direction by the bench followed perusal of a report submitted by Senior Additional Advocate General J A Kawoosa following a visit to leper homes in Bahrar area overlooking famous Nigeen lake near Lal Bazar in outskirts of Srinagar.
In his report, Kawoosa said, the officials present at leper homes apprised him about the non distribution of rice and Atta and requested him to apprise the court about it. There are some other difficulties and lack of facilities which are pointed out in the report.
“Keeping in view the various aspects, we feel would be necessary to constitute a team of lawyers who may visit the leper homes and prepare a composite report incorporating deficiencies and consequent suggestions to remedy the situation on the ground,” the Bench observed.
Accordingly, the Bench requested senior advocate R A Jan and Kawoosa to undertake the visit to the leper homes during course of next two weeks and prepare a comprehensive report “so that the court may be assisted in issuance of further directions.”
Earlier, during the course of arguments, Advocate F A Mir, counsel for Srinagar Municipal Corporation, stated that 39 units for housing the leper families are likely to be completed by the end of this month (June) and they shall be handed over to eligible leper families.
However, advocate R A Jan, apprised the court that there is a requirement of at-least 59 units.
The work on construction of flats for the families of the leper home inmates had actually started in 2009 and was scheduled to be completed in 18 months.
However, the work was stopped after about one year with SMC attributing it to the alleged default on part of the contractor who was awarded the contract at first place. As of now, the construction is going on, as per advocate Mir.
In another direction, the court also directed the team of lawyers to undertake visit to the Psychiatric Hospital as well as Chest Disease Hospitals here.
The direction followed perusal of two status reports filed by J A Kawoosa and another advocate Javed Iqbal about their visit to hospital.
“The two reports seem to be contradictory. The team of the lawyers which would be visiting the leper homes shall also undertake visit to Psychiatric Disease Hospital, in order to assist the court on facilities and shortage thereof (there), the court said.
It should also be highlighted whether the rules regarding disposal of medical waste are being complied with and what is the hygienic condition prevailing in the hospital, the court said.
“A comprehensive report by keeping in view the two status reports already filed be prepared so that further appropriate directions are issued for proper functioning of the psychiatric hospital.”
Team of lawyers, the bench said, may also undertake visit to Chest Disease Hospital so as to apprise the court about the facilities available in the hospital.
Lastly, the court also asked Kawoosa to file status with regard to filling up of the vacancies at the Psychiatric Hospital before next date of hearing.
“A status of dumper placer be also highlighted in the status report,” the court added.
Earlier, rejected a status report filed by the under secretary to government, observing it was violation of business rules.
“Why Under Secretary has filed status. Under the business rules, an officer not below the rank of deputy secretary can file the status. The compliance report cannot be accepted as the officer of the rank of Under Secretary is not competent to file pleadings in the court and the same is rejected,” the court said, directing the Secretary Health Department to file status report duly signed by him on affidavit.
The court was hearing the PIL based on letter sent to the court by one G M Khan in 2006, seeking a ban on private practice by doctors in Jammu and Kashmir.
During the course of various orders passed by the Court, the issue concerning Mental Hospital also came up along with the lepers.