On 2nd May a bench of Supreme Court judges, Justices Altamas Kabir and Jasti Chalameshwar, directed the Chhattisgarh state to produce the Adivasi teacher, Soni Sori, in the All India Institute of Medical Sciences within one week. Reacting to descriptions of her continuing severe medical health problems in letters received from Soni Sori in Raipur jail and from her advocate who had met with her, the Supreme Court expressed deep concern about Soni Sori’s medical condition and recommended that she be brought to AIIMS at the earliest for a thorough medical examination and full treatment. The Director of AIIMS has also been directed to constitute a Medical Board comprising of Heads of Gynecology, Endocrinology and other departments who would examine Ms. Sori and treat her, and give their opinion on her condition to the Supreme Court by July 10th.
Ms. Soni Sori is the Superintendent of Jabeli ashram for tribal children in Dantewada. She had been arrested in Delhi on Oct 4 2011 for being a suspected Maoist sympathizer. Having faced police harassment for over a year while functioning in her government-appointed post, she was in Delhi at that time to file a complaint against the Chhattisgarh police and expose them in the media. Fearing torture at the hands of Chhattisgarh police after her arrest, she had appealed to the Delhi High Court to keep her in custody in Delhi and not send her to Chhattisgarh, but her plea was rejected. Subsequently, she was brutally tortured by the Chhattisgarh police while she was in their custody from 8-10 October 2011; torture that has since been corroborated by an independent medical examination conducted by NRS Hospital and Medical College in Kolkata.
The Supreme Court today made mention of the brutalization of Ms. Sori that was confirmed by the Kolkata Hospital which recovered three stones inserted deep inside the private parts of Ms. Soni, during the torture she was subjected to in her custodial interrogation. The Kolkata hospital had recommended that she be brought back for further treatment and examination at the end of 15 days — but more than six months have passed since her examination in Kolkata in October 2011 and not only has she not been taken back for treatment, even the medicines prescribed by the Kolkata doctors are not being given to her. The letters read out in court today described her worsening medical condition where she complains of intermittent bleeding, anemia, vaginal discharges, prolapsed uterus, difficulty in standing and walking, variably high blood pressure, numbness in limbs etc. In these letters, it was also described how the Chhattisgarh jail authorities are withholding Ms. Soni’s treatment despite court orders, and how Ms. Sori has to suffer their taunts for simply requesting medical treatment.
Taking note of all these, the Supreme Court expressed the need for urgent medical examination and treatment of Ms. Soni Sori. Even though the counsel for state of Chhattisgarh pressed that her treatment should be in a Raipur hospital, the Court categorically stated that it can only be done in an independent institution. Since the counsel for Chhattisgarh state expressed reservations about treatment at NRS Hospital in Kolkata, the court directed that Ms. Sori should be immediately brought and examined at AIIMS.