The Meghalaya High Court directed the state government to implement the plans mentioned in the affidavit filed by the Secretary in the Department of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Meghalaya, regarding facilities available for cancer patients in the state, especially at the Shillong Government Hospital.
The Division Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice W. Diengdoh disposed a PIL pertaining to the lack of a super speciality cancer treatment centre in the State.
However, the Court observed that a lot more needs to be done and many more beds ought to be added, considering the number of cancer patients in the state. The petitioner has made several suggestions in the petition. Most of the suggestions, if they were implemented, would entail huge expenditure and the Court is not in a position to assess the finances available to the State government, nor will the Court issue a mandamus in such regard.
“Suffice it to say that the facilities for cancer patients are inadequate and serious and large-scale augmentation is necessary, in addition to what has been done or it is proposed to be done.”
According to the petitioner, the suggestions that have been made in the petition ought to be accepted.
Since every measure that the State government is required to take involves expenses and depends on the available funds and resources obtained from the Centre, all that the Court can do in such a situation is to act as a catalyst to ensure that proper measures are taken as expeditiously as possible so that a system is put in place which is able to deal with the needs of the people in the State suffering from cancer, the Bench held.
The Court disposed of the PIL by directing the State to implement the plans indicated in the affidavit filed by the Secretary in the Department of Health and Family Welfare and also take into account the suggestions put forth by the petitioner in the petition, subject to cost constraints.
In the conclusion, the Court observed that it may also do well to recount that in a matter where the High Court discovered that tax has been illegally obtained from a class of persons by the State, the Court required 30 per cent of the funds collected illegally by the State to be invested in purchasing specialised equipment for the newly refurbished oncology unit at the Government Hospital in Shillong.
“Indeed, the CAG has been required to monitor that the appropriate amount is infused by the State for obtaining advanced machinery for cancer treatment. The disposal of this petition will not stand in the way of the petitioner or anyone else applying afresh after the expiry of a year to allow the government to put in place the measures that have been indicated in the said affidavit. If the facilities available by June, 2023 are not adequate to deal with the cancer patients in the State, the petitioner will have liberty to apply afresh in Court”
-the order reads.