The Telegraph
Tuesday , July 17 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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SC steps in to save twins

New Delhi, July 16: Acting on a PIL filed by a law student, the Supreme Court today set up a medical team to examine the plight of Bihar’s conjoined twins — Saba and Farah.

The team would give an opinion on whether the twins could be surgically separated or not to allow them to lead normal lives.

“What can medical science do in such a situation? We want to save both the twins. Medical experts can take an appropriate decision,” a two-judge bench, comprising Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan and Justice Dipak Mishra, observed. The bench then set up a team of doctors from All India Institute of Medical Sciences and Apollo to examine their case and give their medical opinion. The team would submit its opinion on Friday.

The court issued notices to the Bihar government and the Union health ministry on the petition. Today’s petition also sought a direction to the Union to bear all expenses of the surgery till both or any of them recovered. Failing this, the state should allow them to go in for “physician-assisted suicide”, which would be an act of “beneficence” for the girls, it said.

A second-year law student from Lucknow, Arushi Dhasmana, moved the top court drawing attention to a fervent plea by their parents to allow mercy killing of their daughters if the state did not help with surgical options to separate them.

The twins are joined at their heads and because of their plight they are unable to sleep at night. They frequently lose consciousness because of the acute pain suffered by them, the petition stated.

The family is not well-off. For the past four months, the twins have been bedridden and were experiencing acute agony when they are awake. They stay awake for over 15 hours and cry for help all the time, the petition stated.

Unless corrective surgery can help them, the petition said, the court should extend the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution to include the right to death with all possible safeguards, including prior consent of the President.

The petition stated that the case represented a serious violation of the right to life of the two 16-year-old twins. Saba and Farah were born to Mohammed Shakeel in Bihar. Shakeel runs a tea stall earning a meagre income of Rs 5,000 a month with which he supports a family of eight.