Divya Trivedi | The Hindu Reports
Adivasi teacher Soni Sori was denied admission by the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) here on Wednesday when brought to the hospital by the Chhattisgarh Police as directed by the Supreme Court. She was later kept in police custody at an unknown location.
“Where is Soni Sori? By whose authority is she being kept in police custody? There are legal provisions in place and judicial custody should have been applied for. The Chhattisgarh Police must make public her location,” said Vani Subramanian of Saheli, the women’s resource centre, adding that it was a matter of grave concern, especially in the light of complaints made by Ms. Sori against the Chhattisgarh Police alleging brutality in custody.
She pointed out that according to the jailor in Raipur, Ms. Sori was taken to Delhi by the morning flight, which typically arrives in the Capital by 11 a.m.
According to the hospital, Ms. Sori was produced at AIIMS at 4 p.m.
“Since the SC order, there has been enough time for the Chhattisgarh Police and AIIMS authorities to work out the modalities,” said Ms. Subramanian.
The hospital refused admission to her as she was brought after admission hours and without prior intimation by the Chhattisgarh Police, it was stated.
Doctor defends move
“We were aware through newspapers that she would be brought here, but we received the Court order only yesterday [Tuesday] and the Medical Superintendent’s office got it only today. The MS being out of station, we will first constitute a medical board upon his return tomorrow and then call her,” said a doctor at AIIMS.
Based on Ms. Sori’s letters and the correspondence received by her counsel Colin Gonsalves from advocate Sudha Bharadwaj who had visited the teacher in Raipur Jail, a Bench of Supreme Court judges Altamas Kabir and J. Chelameswar on May 2 considered various complaints regarding Ms. Sori’s medical condition and the negligence in her treatment. Ms. Sori complained that she was suffering from various health complications on account of foreign particles thrust into her private parts by the Chhattisgarh Police.
In October last year, a special team from a Kolkata hospital submitted a report to the Supreme Court stating that it had recovered foreign bodies from her body, but could not identify the reasons how they got embedded in her private parts.
The Bench on May 2 directed the AIIMS Director to constitute a medical board, specifically including the Head of the Department of Gynaecology, Endocrinology and the Cardiac Department, to examine her physical condition and recommend the treatment to be undergone at AIIMS itself and to submit a complete report on all the steps taken in the matter to the Court on July 10 when the criminal miscellaneous petitions were to be listed.
Urgent Alert on Soni Sori
Soni Sori was taken in the early hours of 9th May from Raipur Central Jail to be brought to AIIMS, following the SC orders of 2nd May. However, she was not admitted there and as of late night of 9th, there was no information about her whereabouts!
Hospital authorities have cited various reasons for not admitting her: that their medical review board had not yet been constituted, that she was produced at AIIMS after 4.00 PM and therefore could not be admitted, etc. None of these are convincing because the Supreme Court order clearly states Soni Sori should be admitted, evaluated by the review board and treated as required at AIIMS itself, and all necessary arrangements for her stay be made.
Of course, concerns for Soni’s safety and well-being run very deep, because of the horrific experiences she has had with the Chattisgarh Police.
The government should ensure that Soni is brought to AIIMS immediately and the authorities at AIIMS should admit her. The authorities need to demonstrate firmly that they respect, and will abide by, the order of the Supreme Court without any further delay.