Babita Rout with her 7-year-old son Avinash who died of dengue after being denied admission to five hospitals in Delhi. (Photo: The Quint)
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Why No Police Case Against Hospitals in 7-year-old’s Dengue Death?

Seven-year-old Avinash Rout died of dengue on September 8, 2015, after allegedly being denied admission to five prominent private hospitals in New Delhi. Soon after, his parents committed suicide out of grief. The Central and State governments ordered enquiries into the matter, but no police case has been registered so far against these hospitals.

It is a case of gross criminal negligence. The child died because hospitals refused to admit him.
— Prashant Kumar, Senior Supreme Court lawyer

He adds that the police should have registered a case under Section 304A of the Indian Penal Code.

Causing death by negligence – whoever causes the death of any person by doing any rash or negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.
— Section 304A, Indian Penal Code (IPC)

Furthermore, a person prosecuted under Section 304A of the IPC is punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or a fine, or both.

The Blame Game Begins

File Picture of Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia in discussion with Rajnath Singh. (Photo: PTI)
File Picture of Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia in discussion with Rajnath Singh. (Photo: PTI)

The Delhi police has passed the buck by saying that no case has been registered in this matter because the Delhi government is conducting an inquiry.

On the other hand, the Delhi Government claimed that they never stopped the police from registering a case.

Sources in the Delhi Government have revealed that the preliminary inquiry conducted by the government shows criminal negligence on the part of the hospitals. Three out of the five hospitals have admitted that Rout was brought to their hospital for treatment.

Repercussions of the delay in filing an FIR by Delhi Police:

  • Hospitals may tamper with evidences, like CCTV footages and hospital documents to cover-up the case.
  • Police may find it difficult to track down the accused and witnesses.

I feel the police should file an FIR against these hospitals because it may happen to anybody.
— Gyanendra Devashish, neighbour of the victim’s family

Delhi Government Inquiry Yet to Conclude

Image used for representation purpose only. (Photo: PTI)
Image used for representation purpose only. (Photo: PTI)

The five hospitals – Moolchand, Max Saket, Akash Hospital, Irene Hospital and Saket City hospital – were issued show cause notices on Saturday by the Director of Health Services Sunil Bhatnagar and asked to explain why their registration should not be cancelled.

The notice also asked the hospitals why Avinash had been turned away despite the Delhi government’s advisory on August 28 to not deny admission to any dengue patient on account of lack of beds.

The Delhi government is still waiting for the replies on the show cause notice sent to all five private hospitals. According to the spokesperson of the Delhi government, a final enquiry report on all hospitals will be sent to the central government by September 15. If the hospitals don’t reply, then the report will be sent to the central government without their responses.

We don’t know what the Delhi police is doing. At the moment our focus is to find out why hospital said no. They built hospitals on concessional rate on hospital land so they are duty-bound to admit people.
— Nagendra Sharma, Spokesperson, Delhi Government

The Delhi Government had already ordered 1,000 new beds for dengue patients in the hospitals. And if hospitals lacked space, they were directed to keep new beds in lobbies. The Delhi Government is also legally exploring the possibility to conduct a magisterial enquiry into the matter.

Until such cases are turned into precedents, these kind of losses will not be checked.