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SC releases Rs 38 cr for BMHRC

THE SUPREME Court today ordered the release of a sum of Rs 37.65 crore, which formed part of assets of erstwhile Bhopal Hospital Trust (BHT) and was lying frozen in the custody of Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) Bhopal, to Bhopal Memorial Hospital Trust (BMHT) for running and maintenance of Bhopal Memorial Hospital & Research Centre (BMHRC).

india Updated: May 03, 2006 15:15 IST

THE SUPREME Court today ordered the release of a sum of Rs 37.65 crore, which formed part of assets of erstwhile Bhopal Hospital Trust (BHT) and was lying frozen in the custody of Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) Bhopal, to Bhopal Memorial Hospital Trust (BMHT) for running and maintenance of Bhopal Memorial Hospital & Research Centre (BMHRC). 

A division bench comprising Justice B N Srikrishan and Justice R V Raveendran also clarified that the hospital would continue to serve the gas victims beyond 2008. There was some confusion over the issue, as the Supreme Court, in its original order for setting up of the hospital, was said to have asked the Trust to give free treatment to gas victims for eight years.

BMHT had moved an application through senior advocate R K Jain in 2004 for release of balance amount of about Rs 38 crore, stating that the corpus was needed for enhancing the facilities of the super-speciality hospital, which has been treating the gas victims free of cost.

Two of the NGOs working among the gas victims, the Bhopal Gas Peedith Mahila Utpidan Sangharsh Samiti and the Bhopal Gas  Peedit Sangharsh Sahyog Samiti, had opposed the application alleging that the funds were not being properly utilised by the Trust.

The court, in the last hearing of the case, had allowed the two NGOs to go through audited accounts of the Trust to find out if there was any bungling or misutilisation of funds and submit a report to the court within two weeks.
On the report submitted by the two NGOS, the judges observed that it was general in nature and there seemed to be nothing
in it to indicate misutilisation of funds.  

“We are satisfied that the balance amount of Rs 37.65 crore with accrued interest lying in the frozen account with the SBI shall be paid to the BMHT...,” the Bench said.

The court, however, asked the two NGOs to approach district Collector, Bhopal, to get access to detailed accounts of the Trust. The court said that the Trust was registered under the MP Public Trusts Act, 1951, and the district Collector, who is also registrar of public trusts, can be approached for access to detailed accounts of the Trust, the court said.

It also said, “The BMHT will continue to serve the gas accident victims till this court makes an order contrary to it”. Welcoming the Supreme Court order, BMT working trustee Aziz Ahmed Siddiqui said that it was an endorsement of the manner in which the Trust was being run under the guidance of Justice A M Ahmadi.

He further said that with the additional amount released today, the Trust would be able to open new departments, purchase latest equipment and upgrade system for better treatment of gas victims. 

Siddiqui further said that detailed accounts of the Trust would be handed over to registrar general in course of time.  The NGOs, however, had a mixed reaction on the order.

Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan (BGPMUS) convener Abdul Jabbar said that the court might have released the balance amount to BMT but at the same time it has allowed them to have access to Trust’s accounts, which the BMT

was keeping a secret till now on the pretext of Supreme Court orders.  He further said that Supreme Court’s clear order that the hospital would continue to provide medical care beyond 2008 has put at rest all the speculations in this regard.

Bhopal Gas Peedit Sangharsh Sahyog Samiti (BGPSSS) convener Sadhna Karnik said that their petition for scrutiny of BMT Trust was already pending with the district Collector and the Supreme Court’s order today should enable him to dispose of the petition quickly and with greater conviction.     


…sets deadlines for Govt on facilities
THE SUPREME Court today converted recommendations of monitoring committee, formed at its behest for keeping a watch on medical facilities being extended to gas victims at gas relief hospitals, into a judicial order and set separate deadlines for the State Government to meet them.

The division bench comprising Justice V N Srikrishnan and Justice R V Raveendran, seized of a public interest litigation (PIL) on medical care of gas victims, while reviewing the four reports submitted by the monitoring committee today converted them into judicial order and set separate deadlines for their fulfillment.

The recommendations mainly relate to shortage of staff, non-availability of medicines and other equipment at gas relief hospitals and other such issues.