The Delhi High Court issues notices to the Government of Delhi and Union of India in the wake of Kamlesh’s tragic maternal death at Sanjay Gandhi Memorial Hospital


hyamsunder & Ors. Vs Govt of NCT of Delhi & Ors., WP (c) 6967/2013 11 NOVEMBER 2013, NEW DELHI In August 2013 the late Kamlesh went to Sanjay Gandhi Memorial Hospital (SGMH) for delivery. During her pregnancy, Kamlesh went for regular antenatal check-ups. However, she did not have the assistance of a field level health worker (ASHA) or access to government benefit schemes for pregnant women. Although Kamlesh had recorded mild to severe anemia during her pregnancy, health workers at SGMH never flagged this risk factor for dangerous deliveries. Kamlesh delivered a healthy baby boy on 6th August 2013. After 2.5 hours of delivery the hospital staff told the family that Kamlesh had developed an infection that caused post-partum hemorrhage. The hospital had to perform a hysterectomy (uterus removal) to stop the bleeding. After her operation, the hospital staff refused to touch Kamlesh. They forced her family members to clean Kamlesh’s body, to change her sanitary pads, and to dispose of the medical waste leaking from her wounds. When Kamlesh was fighting for her life, the hospital gave discharge papers to the family for the newborn but did not let the family take the baby. The hospital did not trust Kamlesh's family - they told them that they could not have the newborn because Kamlesh’s husband would run away with the baby and abandon his wife. The infant was kept in nursery without regular checkups. Kamlesh died on 15 August 2013 from septicemia leading to hemorrhage. From 05.08.2013 to 15.08.2013 Kamlesh’s family provided care for her at the hospital. Although all delivery-related services should be free under Union of India schemes, the family spent Rs.30,000 on blood, travelling, and cremation. The hospital refused to call an ambulance for the family, forcing them to pay Rs. 500/- for a private vehicle. India accounts for the highest number of maternal deaths in the world. According to the WHO, an Indian woman dies in childbirth every eight minutes. The vast majority of these deaths are preventable where women have access to adequate antenatal care, delivery services, and post-natal treatment.Despite myriad government schemes and the Delhi High Court’s groundbreaking orders in Laxmi Mandal vs. Deen Dayal Hari Nagar Hospital & Ors, women in Delhi continue to suffer as a result of inadequate implementation of government schemes and disregard for fundamental rights. The petition prays for compensation for Kamlesh’s family, implementation of government schemes, a comprehensive maternal death review, an evaluation of Sanjay Gandhi Memorial Hospital’s maternity ward, and a report on the Respondents’ actions to improve maternal health care after the Laxmi Mandal orders. The case will be heard in February after the Respondents have filed replies.