New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday refused to entertain a plea related to the treatment of children suffering from Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur. Asking the petitioners to approach the Patna High Court, a bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Deepak Gupta asked,”Encephalitis has broken out. Was this done intentionally by someone? What can we do?”

“What do you want? That we open it up and try to fill up posts of doctors? We are trying to fill up posts of judges and you see where we have got with that. There’s a shortage of doctors, there’s a shortage of judges, MPs, water and sunlight. What all do we look at?” the bench rebuked petitioners.

When the counsel for the petition argued that 57 per cent posts of doctors were vacant in Bihar, to which the court said, “the health ministry is looking into this”.

Filed by advocates Manohar Pratap and Sanpreet Singh Ajmani, the petition had sought direction to the Centre and Bihar to constitute a fact-finding committee to determine the role of persons or entities’ negligence in the treatment of children.

Further, the petitioners had also asked Bihar government to grant compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the surviving members of the families of those who died due to the negligence of the state machinery. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had announced a compensation of Rs 4 lakh each to the families of those who died of AES.

More than 160 children died from AES in Muzaffarpur and surrounding districts of Bihar last month. Most of the dead children were under the age of seven years. According to the Bihar State Health Department, more than 700 children have been affected by AES this time in 20 of the 38 districts.

(With agency inputs)