Are revised death figures complete, HC asks govt
The Patna High Court on Friday asked advocate general (AG) Lalit Kishore if the affidavit filed by the chief secretary regarding revision of death figures was complete in all respects and information had been sought from every quarter.
Hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) on Covid management in the state, the bench of Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice Sanjay Kumar reiterated the need for updating the official website for registration of births and deaths and sought to know who was responsible for maintaining it at the state level and why there were multiple sites for the purpose. The court also directed amicus curiae Mrigank Mauli and Parul Prasad to do some research as to how many such portals were functional in the state.
“There is a reason why there is a department of statistics. The proper compilation of data has effect on policy planning,” it said, citing the example of a boy with black fungus admitted in serious condition to the hospital with no Covid symptoms, but was later diagnosed Covid positive and developed problems in vital organs.
The AG presented the affidavit of the chief secretary with details of the revision of death figures, which went up to 9,375 on June 9 from just 5,424 just a day earlier. The AG said that disciplinary action was being taken against the officials concerned for not reporting deaths in houses, isolation homes, private hospitals etc. earlier.
“But is the figure complete in all respects now? We don’t see it being mentioned anywhere in the affidavit. After all, all the functionaries entrusted with the job of reporting deaths be at the level of panchayati raj institutions or the urban local bodies are duty bound to do it,” the bench said.
Development commissioner Amit Subhani, who is also in-charge of the department of planning and statistics, also joined the proceedings and explained the mechanism of updating data regarding birth and death registration on the official portal. “”There is a unified system and unified software of the central government for the purpose under registrar general. There is director, statistics, at the state level as well designated registrars at the level of the panchayati raj institutions and urban local bodies for uploading data, but the official portal is maintained by the Centre. There is just one such official platform. Whether it is for public viewing can be ascertained from the Centre only,” he said.
On this, the court sought to know why there was a parallel portal under the urban development and housing department. “From the affidavits we see, there are at least three such platforms,” it said, to which the AG would present facts during the next hearing.