New Delhi: A case was registered against the Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan and Bihar Health Minister Mangal Panday for not spreading adequate awareness against the deadly Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) that has claimed lives of nearly 120 children in Bihar.

The plea by the social activist Tamanna Hashmi will be heard by the Muzaffarpur Chief Judicial Magistrate’s (CJM) court on June 24.

The petition claimed that Dr Harsh Vardhan and Mangal Pandey failed to control the outbreak of AES as a result of their negligence. It alleged that both had done nothing to create awareness and sensitize people in the affected areas despite the fact that AES had been killing children for years.

Hashmi said that he has filed the case against the accused, Harsh Vardhan and Mangal Pandey, under Sections 323 (Punishment for voluntarily causing hurt), 308 (Attempt to commit culpable homicide) and 504 (Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

“A large number of children died due to negligence and lack of infrastructure to give them timely proper treatment”, he said.

Muzaffarpur MP Ajay Nishad told news agency ANI, “There’s lack of doctors but they’re working. It’s not like every patient coming for treatment is dying, 70% are being cured. But there should not have been any death. Science has made so much advancement but we can’t control a disease. Unfortunate!”

Harsh Vardhan, accompanied by the Union Minister of State for Health Ashwani Kumar Choubey and the Bihar Health Minister, visited the state-owned Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital in Muzaffarpur on Sunday.

The Union Minister had earlier refused to comment on the rising death toll due to the disease in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur.