The Supreme Court on Friday refused to entertain public interest litigations (PILs) pertaining to the treatment of children suffering from Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) in Bihar's Muzaffarpur and asked the petitioners to approach the Patna High Court.
"Encephalitis has broken out. Was this done intentionally by someone? What can we do? These are not matters we can hear," a bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Deepak Gupta said.
The advocates for the petition argued that 57 per cent posts of doctors were vacant in Bihar, to which the court said, "the health ministry is looking into this".
"What do you want? That we open it up and try to fill up posts of doctors? We are trying to fill up posts of judges and you see where we have got with that. There's a shortage of doctors, there's a shortage of judges, MPs, water and sunlight. What all do we look at?" the bench asked.
The petition, filed by Advocates Manohar Pratap and Sanpreet Singh Ajmani, sought direction to the Centre and Bihar to constitute a fact-finding committee to determine the role of persons or entities' negligence in the treatment of children.
The petitioners had also asked Bihar government to grant compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the surviving members of the families of those who died due to the negligence of the state machinery.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had announced a compensation of Rs 4 lakh each to the families of those who died of AES.
Encephalitis is a viral disease that causes mild flu-like symptoms such as high fever, convulsions, and headache.
According to official data, as many as 176 children had lost their lives due to AES in the state.
'Encephalitis has broken out. Was this done intentionally by someone? What can we do? These are not matters we can hear,' a bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Deepak Gupta said.