Attorneys from HRLN conducted a fact-finding mission in 2010 that led to the subsequent withdrawal of the case in favor of refiling based on fresh evidence documenting reproductive rights violations in Bihar. For more information on the refiled case, please see CHARM v. The State of Bihar and Others (2011).
Filing Date: January 2009 (Original petition), June 2009 (Center memo)
Plaintiff(s): Centre for Health and Resource Management (CHARM)
Center Attorney(s): Melissa Upreti and Payal Shah
Partners: HRLN and Cornell Human Rights Clinic (research assistance)
Summary: The Center for Reproductive Rights has prepared an friend-of-the-court brief in May of 2009 in support of Centre for Health and Resource Management v. The State of Bihar &, Others (2008), a maternal mortality case submitted before the High Court of Judicature at Patna, Bihar, India, by the Human Rights Law Network. The State of Bihar has one of the highest maternal mortality and morbidity ratios in India and this case has significant implications for the basic human rights of women in India, including the rights to life, liberty and security, freedom from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, health, equality and non-discrimination, and the right to reproductive self-determination.
This case highlights the impact of failed national and local public health policies and lack of access to maternal health care in Bihar. It urges the government to fulfill the service guarantees provided for in the National Rural Health Mission’s Framework for Implementation by upgrading hospitals, sub-centers, and other public health facilities in the state and to uphold the Indian Public Health Standards in these facilities, thereby helping to ensure safe institutional deliveries. Furthermore, the petition appeals to the government to ensure that all public health facilities are accessible without discrimination and free of charge to persons below the poverty line. The Center’s Amicus Brief is intended to support the petition by examining international jurisprudence, international human rights treaties to which India is a party, and the Indian Constitution to prove that both the Indian national government and the Bihar state government have an obligation to protect and confirm a woman’s right to survive pregnancy as a basic human right.
The work in this case helps actualize a broader commitment to utilize litigation in order to address India’s staggering maternal mortality and morbidity problem. The Center has filed memoranda of support in maternal mortality cases throughout the Indian states, including Sandesh Bansal v. Union of India &, Ors., W.P. No. 9061/2008 and in Snehalata Singh v. The State of Uttar Pradesh &, Ors., W.P. No. 14588/2009. And the International Legal Program’s recent report Maternal Mortality in India: Using International and Constitutional Law to Promote Accountability and Change, explicitly calls for legal action to ameliorate this public health and human rights crisis, to confront this critical threat to women’s rights and lives, and to hold the government accountable for maternal deaths and enact change.