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Delhi High Court directs Centre to file affidavit on rules related to organ donation, transplant

The High Court of Delhi has directed the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to file an affidavit on a petition related to the timelines followed by hospitals in case of organ donation and transplants.

The Single-Judge Bench of Justice Pratibha M. Singh recently passed the order on a plea, which alleged that due to indecision and delay caused in kidney transplant by Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, the petitioner, who sought approval for kidney transplant on an urgent basis, died in March-April.

The High Court took in view the fact that the Central government had enacted the 2014 Rules under Section 24 of the Transplantation of Human Organs & Tissues Act (THOTA), 1994. 

The counsel for the petitioner submitted that in case of organ donation, once the person needing an organ had submitted the requisite documentation, there were no prescribed timelines for holding of the interview by the Authorisation Committee under the Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Rules, 2014.

He further said that the Hospitals did not follow any timelines between the submission of documents and for fixing the date of the interview.

While impleading the Union government  through the Secretary, Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in the matter, the Bench directed the Ministry to state in the affidavit as to what was the reasonable period that should be followed by the Hospitals, Authorisation Committees and for the screening process for holding interviews and conveying the decisions to the applicants under the 2014 Rules.

The High Court observed that Rule 23(4) required the decision to be displayed on the website within 24 hours, while after the filing of the forms, there was no timeline fixed for holding of interviews under Rule 23(1). 

She mentioned, ” As per Rule 23, (1) The Authorisation Committee (which is applicable only for living organ or tissue donor) should state in writing its reason for rejecting or approving the application of the proposed living donor in the prescribed Form 18 and all such approvals should be subject to the following conditions, namely:

(i) the approved proposed donor would be subjected to all such medical tests as required at the relevant stages to determine his or her biological capacity and compatibility to donate the organ in question;

(ii) the physical and mental evaluation of the donor has been done to know whether he or she is in proper state of health and it has been certified by the registered medical practitioner in Form 4 that he or she is not mentally challenged and is fit to donate the organ or tissue: Provided that in case of doubt for mentally challenged status of the donor the registered medical practitioner or Authorisation Committee may get the donor examined by psychiatrist;

(iii) all prescribed forms have been and would be filled up by all relevant persons involved in the process of transplantation; 

(iv) all interviews to be video recorded. 

(2) The Authorisation Committee shall expedite its decision making process and use its discretion judiciously and pragmatically in all such cases where the patient requires transplantation on an urgent basis.

(3) Every authorised transplantation centre must have its own website and the Authorisation Committee is required to take final decision within twenty four hours of holding the meeting for grant of permission or rejection for transplant.

(4) The decision of the Authorisation Committee should be displayed on the notice board of the hospital or Institution immediately and should reflect on the website of the hospital or Institution within twenty four hours of taking the decision, while keeping the identity of the recipient and donor hidden.”

The petitioner was represented by Advocate Charu Aneja, while Advocate Subhash Kumar appeared for the Respondents no. 1 & 2. Advocate Saroj Bidawat represented the Union of India (Respondent no. 3).

(Case title: Amar Singh Bhatia & Anr vs Sir Ganga Ram Hospital & Ors)

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