Bihar Encephalitis Deaths: Supreme Court asks state government, Centre to file reply within 7 days

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday has asked the Centre and the Bihar government to reply within seven days on the issue of the deaths of over 100 children in Muzaffarpur due to the outbreak of acute encephalitis syndrome (AES). AES is also called Chamki Fever in Bihar.

A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and B R Gavai also directed the Uttar Pradesh government to file a reply on the deaths from AES in the state.

The bench ordered the Bihar government to file an affidavit on the sufficiency of medical facilities, nutrition and sanitation and the hygiene conditions in the state.

During the hearing, one of the lawyers told the court that similar deaths had occurred earlier in Uttar Pradesh. The court took note of it and asked the state government to file its response as well.

The matter has been posted for hearing after 10 days.

The petition was filed by an advocate, Manohar Pratap, who said he was deeply troubled and discouraged by the deaths of over 126 children, mostly in the age group of one to 10 years, in the past weeks. The figures were rising day by day, the petition stated.

“The deaths of children are a direct result of negligence and inaction on the part of the respective state governments of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Union of India in handling the epidemical situation which arises every year due to the outbreak of AES also called Japanese encephalitis,” the plea said.

It claimed thousands of young children were losing their lives yearly from the disease but the governments (states and Centre) had done nothing to prevent its spread.

“This year i.e in 2019, the epicentre of the said disease is Muzaffarpur in Bihar where more than 126 children have lost their lives in the past one week. Media reports show that there is an acute shortage of doctors, medical facilities, intensive care units, and other medical equipments in the hospitals in nearby areas and children are dying in hospitals due to lack of required facilities,” the petition said.