The Madras High Court has ordered the Tamil Nadu government to give Rs. 25 lakh as compensation to a woman from Sattur in Virudhunagar, who has transfused with HIV-positive blood at a government hospital. This is in addition to a previous order from the High Court which directed authorities to construct a house and provide a permanent job for the victim.
In December 2018, the 23-year-old pregnant woman had undergone a blood transfusion at the Sattur government hospital, only to discover that the donated blood carried the HIV virus. It was alleged that the blood bank staff failed to properly screen the donated blood. Following this, multiple public interest litigations (PILs) were filed in court demanding compensation for the victim's physical and mental trauma. The order was finally passed by a division bench of Justice N Kirubakaran and Justice SS Sundar. A batch of three cases related to the issue were clubbed together by the court.
In their order, the judges said, "The State shall pay a sum of Rs.25 lakhs by way of compensation to the victim, Tmt.Muthu. Out of the said sum of Rs.25 lakhs, a sum of Rs.10 lakhs shall be deposited in an interest bearing fixed deposit for a period of three years in any Nationalised bank in the name of the victim. The remaining sum of Rs.15 lakha shall be deposited in the joint name of her two minor children and the said sum will be in fixed deposit till the minors attain majority. The victim is entitled to withdraw interest accrued only out of the amount deposited in her account."
The court then reiterated its previous order from April 2019, and directed the government to allocate additional funds to construct a house for the victim.
The court further set guidelines for recruitment of blood bank employees and for tests conducted on samples.
"All the posts, particularly, the post of Counselor, Lab Technicians, Blood Bank Technicians, Supervisors and Staff Nurses shall be filled up by TANSACS or SBTC in connection with Blood Banks, and AIDS Control programme in the State shall be filled up by following the recruitment process recommended by NACO, particularly, with regard to the educational qualification and other eligibility criteria," ordered the bench.
In addition to this, the government has been directed to constitute an expert body for the purpose of evolving a foolproof mechanism/procedure to collect, test and preserve blood units. This is to prevent recurrence of transfusion of infected blood at private and government hospitals in the future.