Hope for justice finally seems to be on its way to victims of uterus scam in Bihar.
After a prolonged legal battle that continued for almost seven years, the state government finally sanctioned a sum of Rs.12.88 crores to be doled out as compensation to the victims of uterus scam that first surfaced in 2012.
As many as 702 women and underage girls were operated upon and their uteruses were removed, without consent, by doctors at various hospitals under the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) for the poor.
The operations were allegedly done in lieu of incentives under the medical insurance scheme of RSBY in 2012.
When opposition parties raised a hue and cry, the government had then outrightly denied any irregularities in RSBY.
The state government’s latest decision to award compensation to the victims followed a Patna High Court’s order in September last year, by which the authorities were directed to pay adequate compensation to all the victims hailing from eight different districts.
The maximum cases of unauthorized and illegal operations of uterus were registered in Gopalganj (318) followed by Samastipur where 316 women and girls fell victim to illegal surgery.
As per the order issued by the State Home Department in April, the district magistrates of the concern districts have been told to pay a compensation of Rs.2.50 lakh each to the victims between 20 and 40, and Rs 1.50 lakh each to those above 40 years of age.
Bihar Human Rights Commission (BHRC) had in 2012 taken suo-motu cognizance of reports about irregularities in cases of uterus removal under the scheme, and lodged FIRs against 33 empanelled hospitals and 13 doctors.
FIRs were lodged in 2013, less than a year after the scam was unearthed.
Several district magistrates who had conducted the inquiries had written to the Medical Council of India (MCI) to cancel the registration of doctors and hospitals involved in the illegalities. However, MCI declined taking stern action against them.
BHRC in its report had termed the incident ‘barbaric’ and ‘criminal’ and directed MCI to conduct an inquiry and punish the guilty.
The report stated that altogether 103 women were aged between 20 to 30 and 288 women were in the age group of 30 to 40, whose uteruses were illegally removed.
There were 163 women aged over 40 years who also lost their uteruses in the illegal operations.
Across several districts in Bihar, women who had complained of petty problems like pain in stomach had their doctors persuading them to get their uteruses removed for pocketing the insurance money for the surgeries from RSBY.
by Madhu Mishra