Syed Saifuddin Kamal and BLAST v Bangladesh and others [Emergency Medical Services Case]

Syed Saifuddin Kamal and BLAST v Bangladesh and others [Emergency Medical Services Case]

Writ Petition No. 1509 of 2016

High Court Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh

Facts: BLAST and Syed Saifuddin Kamal, a social entrepreneur, filed this writ petition after the latter who had tried to ensure emergency medical services from three local hospitals for a young man called Arafat, a bus helper, who died after being critically injured when a bus ran over him on the Airport Road near Banani, Dhaka, and after he was turned away by the hospitals in question.

Arguments: The petitioners argued that the failure to provide emergency medical services to the bus helper was a serious violation of his fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 27, 31 and 32 of the Constitution, Sections 8 and 11 of Medical Practice and Private Clinics and Laboratory (Regulation) Ordinance 1982, and Section 5(A) of Bangladesh Medical and Dental Council Act 1980.

Order: The High Court issued a Rule Nisi on 10.02.2016 directing the respondents to show cause as to why the failure to ensure emergency medical services by existing hospitals and clinics, whether governmental or private, to critically injured persons should not be declared to be made without lawful authority and violative of the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution, and incorporate such a requirement in the license issued to any hospital or clinic and set up a complaints system to receive reports regarding the denial of services. The Court also issued interim directions upon respondents nos. 1 and 2 to report within 3 months on progress in ensuring emergency medical services for traffic accident victims under the National Road Safety Strategic Action Plan 2014-2016 and propose guidelines for managing emergency medical services, including running an emergency reporting number, and creating public awareness of such services through the print and electronic media, and upon respondents nos. 1 and 3, to issue necessary guidelines for protection of ‘good samaritans’ for hospitals, police and others.

On 06.06.2016, the High Court issued a show cause notice on the Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the Secretary of the Ministry of Transport and Bridges and the Director-General of the Health Directorate (respondents to a public interest petition filed on 10 February 2016) for the failure to comply with its directions.These bodies were due to file their reports on 19th May. On that day, and subsequently, the Deputy Attorney General concerned sought time, which the Court granted. Again, on 30 May, 2016 the state sought extension for a second time. As the reports were not filed within the extended time, today the Court issued a Rule on the respondents for not complying with its interim directions and also issued a notice upon them to show cause as to why they should not be proceeded against for contempt of Court. The rule was issued by a Division Bench comprising of Justice Moyeenul Islam Chowdhury and Justice Iqbal Kabir.

Updated Information: On 28.02.2017, in Annex Court No. 26, comprising Mr. Justice Syed Refaat Ahmed and Mr. Justice Md. Selim,heard the matter. After hearing the AAG representing Respondent No.2 (Ministry of Health) and Barrister Rashna Imam for the petitioner, the court passed an order to come the matter on 13.03.2017 as part heard matter and the respondent no. 1 is directed to file an affidavit in compliance indicating the progress made in this regard (preparing draft guideline) and a date for formulation of the said draft guidelines for ensuring medical emergency service if not prepared within this time. 

Law Cited: Constitution, Articles 15, 18, 21, 27, 31 and 32; Medical Practice and Private Clinics and Laboratory (Regulation) Ordinance 1982;Bangladesh Medical and Dental Council Act 1980

Status: Part Heard


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