The Supreme Court on Tuesday transferred a 2011 PIL to the Kerala High Court for monitoring the state government’s action in providing “medical and palliative care” to the victims of toxic pesticide Endosulfan in Kasargod district.
Endosulfan was used widely on crops like cashew, cotton, tea, and fruits till 2011, after which its production and distribution were banned due to several reports of ill effects on humans.
A bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justices P S Narasimha and J B Pardiwala said now the issue of releasing Rs 5 lakh as compensation to each of the victims of the pesticide has been settled and the only aspect that remained was to provide medical and palliative care to the affected people.
“We will extract our orders (on monitoring aspects) and will send the case to the Kerala High Court to monitor this aspect. We will request the Chief Justice of the High Court to monitor this aspect on a regular basis,” the CJI said at the start of the proceedings.
The top court, meanwhile, closed the contempt proceedings against the state government initiated for alleged non-compliance of its orders on compensation and medical care.
The bench referred to its earlier orders and said now the monitoring of medical care aspects can be done by the high court which can close the case after being satisfied on this count.
It directed the Registrar (Judicial) of the apex court to ensure compliance by sending the judicial records of the 2011 PIL to the high court registry which would now treat it as a writ petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution.
During the brief hearing, the bench perused a report filed by Kasargod District Legal Services Authority (DLSA) on payment of compensation and medical care to the victims of the pesticide.
The DLSA had assessed the medical and healthcare facilities available for the Endosulfan affected areas of Kasaragod at various levels, including the district hospitals, general hospitals, community healthcare centres and primary healthcare centres.
The DLSA had visited the existing healthcare facilities to assess the standards of palliative care and physiotherapy.
Prior to this, the state government had filed an affidavit informing the apex court about 98 per cent disbursal of Rs 5 lakh compensation to each of over 3,700 victims.
On May 13, 2022, the top court had pulled up the Kerala government for not paying the compensation of Rs 5 lakh to each of the victims of Endosulfan and directed the Chief Secretary to hold monthly meetings and ensure necessary medical help to them.
The top court was hearing a contempt petition filed by eight victims. The court had said the state government does not act unless a contempt petition is filed.
The plea had sought initiation of contempt proceedings against the state government for wilful disobedience of the top court’s order dated January 10, 2017 and direction to set up a medical facility in Kasargod district to provide treatment to the victims.