Monday, May 27, 2024
Top Stories

HC gives 45 days to GoN to appoint HIV, AIDS Ombudsman

Nagaland News

DIMAPUR, OCTOBER 18: The Kohima Bench of Gauhati High Court has ordered the Nagaland Government to appoint or designate within 45 days an Ombudsman, as mandated by Rule-4 of the Nagaland Human Immuno Deficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Ombudsman and Legal Proceeding) Rules, 2019.


The verdict, delivered by Justice Songkhupchung Serto and Justice Kakheto Sema on Monday, comes as a major boost to, and a shot in the arms of, Rights and Advocacy activists in the State.
After multiple appeals made to the State Government were met with deaf ears ~ no less than 53 NGOs had even served a representation to the then Governor RN Ravi ~ the Network of Nagaland Drugs and AIDS Organisations (NNaga DAO) and the Network of Naga People Living with HIV (NNP+) had filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) before the High Court on August 17 this year.
In their petition, they had submitted: “The statutory mandate is to appoint Ombudsman within one hundred and eighty days after the commencement of the Act; however this has not been complied with by the respondents as even after the lapse of 2 years and 10 months, the State of Nagaland do not have even a single ombudsman appointed. Hence, the respondents had not only violated the statutory mandates but also denied the protected persons their rights to seek protection and redress their grievances through the mechanism which has been designed to suit their needs”, the petition said.


There were three respondents named in the case: the State of Nagaland, represented by the Chief Secretary; the Principal Secretary of Health and Family Welfare; and the Secretary of Law and Justice.
During the hearing, the Court rejected the State Government’s submission, through its Ccounsel, that it had designated Ajit Kumar Ranjan, Joint Secretary of Health & Family, as Ombudsman under Ssection 23 of the Human Immuno Deficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Prevention and Control) Act, 2017, through a notification issued on September 8, 2021.
“We have seen the notification and perused the same. However, we find that the notification is not as per the provisions of Nagaland Human Immuno Deficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Ombudsman and Legal Proceeding) Rule, 2019 framed and notified by the State Government”, the Court remarked.
It pointed out that Rule-4 of Nagaland Human Immuno Deficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Ombudsman and Legal Proceeding) Rule, 2019, provides: “Any person who is a retired District or Sessions Judge, or who has minimum ten years working experience or extensive knowledge in matters relating to public health or health delivery systems, or is a qualified healthcare provider who is a physician with a minimum of ten years work experience, or is a person working in an non-governmental organisation with similar experience and knowledge. Provided that where a person other than a retired District or Session’s Judge is appointed as an Ombudsman, the State Government shall provide him with assistance from the Department of Justice and Law on legal issues that may arise in the course of the his work, if so requested.”


Going by the provision of this rule, the Court said, the Joint Secretary of Health & Family Welfare could not have been designated as Ombudsman because of the obvious reason that he does not meet the requirements given therein.
“There is no other provision in the Rule of 2019 or in the Act providing the qualification and experience of Ombudsman except the one given herein above. Therefore, the State Government has no choice but to follow the same while appointing/designating a person as an Ombudsman under the Act of 2017,” it ruled.
(Page News Service)

error: