Read Judgment: Baiju K G & Ors v. Dr V P Joy 

Tulip Kanth

New Delhi, May 18, 2022: While considering a Contempt Petition instituted by the residents of Kasargod district in Kerala who were affected by the use of a toxic pesticide called Endosulfan, the Supreme Court has directed the Chief Secretary to hold monthly meetings to ensure that the judgment of this Court dated January 10, 2017 is diligently implemented by undertaking the process of identifying the victims, drawing up a list of beneficiaries and ensuring the disbursement of compensation of Rs 5 lakh to each of the victims.

The Division Bench of Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Surya Kant opined that the inordinate delay by the State Government in compensating the persons affected by the use of Endosulfan not only reflected its failure to comply with the order of this Court but also further compounded the violation of the fundamental rights of such persons. The failure to redress the infringement of their fundamental rights became more egregious with each passing day, added the Bench.

In this case, the use of the pesticide led to a spread of mental and physical ailments among residents of areas that were impacted by its use. A writ petition was instituted before this Court by the persons affected by the use of Endosulfan and this Court by its order dated January 10, 2017 directed the State Governments to compensate all the affected persons by distributing an amount of Rs 5 lakhs to each affected person within three months.

It was the case of the  petitioners-victims that the Government had failed to comply with the order as they were yet to be compensated and the medical facilities had not been improved because of which the affected persons in Kasargod District were compelled to travel to Trivandrum, about 600 kms away for their treatment.

The Division Bench affirmed, “ The right to health is an integral part of the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution. Without health, the faculties of living have little meaning. We would be justified in taking recourse to the coercive arm of law. However, our immediate concern is providing relief and rehabilitation to the victims who are suffering.”

Listing the Contempt Petition on July 18, 2022, the Apex Court passed the aforementioned directions and also asked to ensure due medical facilities within reasonable distance from places of residence of the victims.

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