The Calcutta High Court caught the West Bengal Government on the wrong foot over the dengue report furnished by the State. The Court labeled the report "controversial and contradictory."
Following the production of 4 additional death certificates by a petitioner's Counsel, the Court further questioned whether the Government report could be "trusted." The four persons had died in Government Hospitals from dengue stated the certificates.
During hearing PIL on dengue, on Thursday the Government there had been 38 dengue deaths in the State until November 15th. The 38 included 23 deaths in State-run Government Hospitals and 15 in Private facilities.
However, Advocate Srijib Chakroborty representing petitioner Debasish Chakraborty, produced 4 additional death certificates.
Incidentally, Debasish Chakraborty, a researcher from the Jadavpur University had filed a PIL on dengue at the High Court. There are 9 other PILs on dengue also being heard at the Court.
Acting Chief Justice Jyotirmay Bhattacharjee stated that the State Government report is controversial and contradictory.
"I am inclined to seek an affidavit from the Government of West Bengal in which they will have to make clear what steps have been taken regarding dengue. The State will also say what action has been taken to send mobile units to remote areas to conduct tests" ordered the Acting Chief Justice.
He asked the State regarding plans for compensation to families of dengue victims.
State Advocate General Kishore Dutta then raised the question of maintainability of the PIL. "The Court should first establish whether the PIL is maintainable or not. There is a clear directive of the Supreme Court that PILs have to be admitted based on the amount of research that has gone into them. Nowadays most of the PILs are based on newspaper reports" argued Dutta.
He further claimed that the situation is not out of control and that the State is doing its best.
Justice Arijit Banerjee, a constituent of the Division Bench questioned whether there are parameters to declare dengue as an epidemic.
To this Dutta stated that declaring an epidemic is an administrative decision and the Court has no jurisdiction over such matters.
The Advocate General then blamed the Union Government for not supplying Elisa Kits (for conduction dengue tests) to West Bengal. "the West Bengal Government had to arrange for Kits and spent Rs. 55 Crores. The Union Government spent only 9 Crores on national Urban Mission and the National Vector Borne Disease Control programmes" claimed Dutta.
This was countered by Kaushik Chandra, Additional Solicitor General, Government of India. "This is incorrect. In 2015-16 the Union Government had sanctioned Rs. 22 Crore to West Bengal which remained unutilized. In 2016-17 Rs. 19 Crore remained unspent" claimed Chandra.