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Delhi High Court Sets Timelines for Organ Transplant Approvals: A Timely Intervention

Last Updated on January 5, 2024 by News Desk

Introduction:

The Delhi High Court recently issued a comprehensive judgment addressing the procedural timelines for processing applications, verifying documents, conducting interviews, and deciding on organ and tissue transplantations. This landmark ruling, stemming from the case of Amar Singh Bhatia & Anr v Sir Ganga Ram Hospital & Ors, is pivotal in streamlining and expediting the approval process for organ donations.

Issues at Hand:

The crux of the matter lay in the absence of defined timelines within the Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Rules, 2014. This led to indefinite adjournments, prolonged waiting periods, and in some tragic cases, extended suffering for patients in dire need of transplants. The lack of specific deadlines for the Authorisation Committee to conduct interviews perpetuated delays in decision-making, ultimately impacting patients’ lives.

Reasoning and Key Highlights:

Justice Prathiba M Singh, delivering the judgment, delineated a structured timeline for the entire process. The court emphasized that the processing of applications should be completed within 10 days under Rule 10, and document verification within a maximum of 14 days as per Form 20 of the rules. Furthermore, the court mandated clear communication of opportunities to donors and recipients for completing necessary documentation, affording a maximum response time of one week.

The judgment also underscored the crucial role of the Authorisation Committee, stipulating that within four to six weeks of application receipt, interviews should be scheduled within two weeks. The committee must conduct these interviews expeditiously, allowing for interactions between the donor/recipient families and convey their decision within this two-week period.

The overarching aim, as emphasized by Justice Singh, was to ensure the entire process—from submission to decision—should ideally not exceed 6 to 8 weeks. Additionally, the appeal process against the Authorisation Committee’s decision under Rule 33 should be decided within a maximum period of 30 days, providing a mechanism for timely redressal.

Conclusion:

The High Court’s judgment signifies a pivotal step in aligning the transplantation process with the urgency it warrants. By prescribing explicit timelines, the court aimed to mitigate prolonged waiting periods and extended suffering, ensuring a more efficient and compassionate approach to organ donation approvals. It urged the competent authority to issue clear communications to stakeholders, implementing these timelines for a more streamlined and expedited process, thereby affirming the sanctity of the 1994 Act and 2014 Rules in facilitating organ donations.

Written by — Athi Venkatesh

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