Court order follows petition citing two reports in The Hindu

The Allahabad High Court on Tuesday directed the Kamla Nehru Memorial Hospital (KNMH) to provide details of any free treatment to poor patients as per the policies of the Centre and the State government.

The court sought the names and addresses of cancer patients who have been given such treatment in the last five years as per the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) guidelines.

The KNMH is one of the 27 Regional Cancer Centres in India and is presided over by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

A Division Bench of Acting Chief Justice Rakesh Srivastava and Justice Laxmi Kanta Mohapatra passed the order on a Public Interest Litigation petition by Aam Aadmi Party volunteer Saumya Bahadur and another respondent.

The petition takes into consideration a June 14 report by The Hindu titled “Kamla Nehru Hospital got excess grants, reveals RTI query.”

The report noted the Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) observations on how, despite receiving excess grants, the hospital kept funds unutilised to rake in interest. The report also pointed out that free and subsidised treatment was provided to people with influence rather than to the needy. The hospital could not provide any “clear answers” to queries put by the CAG. The report also mentioned other cases of financial irregularities in the hospital and raised questions on its Regional Cancer Centre (RCC) status.

The court also sought to know if any funds had been provided for the treatment of a 10-year-old cancer patient from Allahabad, Shivani Kesarwani, who belongs to a family that is Below Poverty Line.

An August 6 report in The Hindu , titled “Do BPL patients get their due at cancer centres?” highlighted Shivani’s plight.

Shivani’s parents alleged that they did not receive any assistance from the hospital despite belonging to the BPL category. Instead, the KNMH had recommended Shivani to the Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Science, Lucknow, despite both hospitals being RCCs. But since her family could not afford the new costs, they decided to continue treatment at KNMH. Since then, Shivani has received Rs. 1 lakh from the Chief Minister’s Fund.

However, Shivani’s father Suresh Kesarwani, a gas delivery hawker, said the amount won’t be enough. “It is costly and difficult to find people for bone marrow transplant, so she will require treatment all her life. We hope she is provided free treatment. Since the court has taken up the issue, we have full faith that something positive will happen,” he said.

Siddharth Nandan, counsel for the petitioners, said the hospital was involved in financial bungling and cancer patients were being deprived of benefits due to political reasons and manipulation of government agencies.

The court has also sought details on the number of beds earmarked in KNMH for cancer patients as per the NCCP.