NHRC asks UT govt to pay Rs 3 lakh to family of each infant who died after taking spurious cough syrup in Ramnagar

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Jammu: Nearly an year after the death of 11 children allegedly due to a spurious cough syrup in Udhampur district’s Ramnagar tehsil, the National Human Rights Commission on Monday asked the UT government to pay Rs three lakh as compensation to the next of kin of each deceased, saying the “the state is vicariously liable’’ as its Drug Department “failed to keep a regular vigil on the contamination and contents of medicines sold within its jurisdiction’’.

It also asked the UT Chief Secretary to file the compliance report along with proof of payment to it within six weeks, positively. Awarding the monetary compensation, it observed that children “died to the consumption of adulterated oral syrup/medicine’’ and their “human rights have been infringed’’.

The Commission rejected the Jammu Kashmir government’s stand denying any complacency on part of State Drugs Control Department in discharging statutory duties assigned to it under the provisions of Drugs and Cosmetic Act, 1940, and that it has already lodged a formal police complaint against the manufacturing company who was primarily responsible for manufacturing of quality drugs.

Expressing its inability to accept this contention, the Commission observed that “there is no denial of lapse in the case though the Drugs Department of the State does not want to own the responsibility for it’’.

In this context, it pointed out that the Commission has already found vide its proceedings dated September 7 last year that “there is a procedural lapse on the part of the Drug Department of the State of Jammu & Kashmir wherein the authority have duly failed to keep a regular vigil on the contamination and contents of medicines sold within its jurisdiction’’. “The Commission therefore reiterates that the State is vicariously liable for said negligence and this case is a fit case for award of compensation,’’ it added.

Nearly a dozen children had died in Ramnagar area of Jammu region’s Udhampur district between December and January, after consuming cough syrup from a batch believed to have contained a poisonous compound. The syrup was prescribed and sold to them by a private `registered medical practitioner’ in the town.

Following reports in various newspapers, a social activist Sukesh Khajuria, later filed a complaint before the NHRC alleging death of nearly a dozen children due to consumption of spurious syrup in Ramnagar tehsil.