The Supreme Court on Monday reacted sharply to the deaths of more than 125 children in Bihar due to the outbreak of acute encephalitis syndrome (AES), locally known as the 'Chamki' fever and asked the Centre and Bihar government to file its response within a week.
Hearing a plea, the Supreme Court bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and BR Gavai directed the Nitish Kumar-led BJP-JDU government to file an affidavit on the adequacy of medical facilities, nutrition and sanitation and the hygiene conditions in the state.
"This cannot go on. This requires some consideration. We will need certain answers," the bench said while hearing the plea raising a matter of grave concern about nutrition, sanitisation and hygiene.
During the hearing, one of the lawyers informed the court that similar deaths had occurred earlier in Uttar Pradesh. The court took note of it and directed the state government to file its response as well. The matter has been posted for hearing after 10 days.
As many as 129 children have died in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur due to the outbreak. Of the total deaths, 109 have been reported at state-run Sri Krishna Medical College Hospital (SKMCH) and 20 at Kejriwal hospital. The Senior Resident Doctor of SKMCH, Dr Bhimsen Kumar, has been suspended for negligence of duty.
The deaths of children sparked a massive public outrage with many demanding resignation of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Health Minister Mangal Pandey. The BJP-JDU led government had to face further embarassment when a video of Pandey asking about the cricket match score during a meeting on children's death went viral on social media.