In October last year, gas-affected Ms Hazra Bee, a Bhopali activist and women’s rights campaigner (left) filed a request with the Central Information Commission (CIC, New Delhi) for copies of the following information (from Jan 2000 to Oct 2010):
- Correspondence between the PIO, the Joint Drugs Controller, and the Quintiles Transnational Corp
- Correspondence between the PIO and the Bhopal Memorial Hospital & Research Centre (BMHRC)
- Names of all companies and drugs that were conducting drug trials in collaboration with BMHRC
- Correspondence in relation to investigation of the drug trial conducted by Quintiles Transnational Corp
- File inspection of all files relating to the drug trials being conducted at BMHRC and any other aspect of BMHRC
She didn’t receive a reply. She filed her second request a month later. The PIO replied saying he had sought explanations from the drug company. Hazra Bee wasn’t satisfied, she again filed a request for information in February of this year.
The recent report of the hearing is summarised as follows (full report):
Hazra Bee contended that unethical drug trials had been conducted by the BMHRC on Bhopal gas victims in which 11 people died. she also contended that information was deliberately being withheld from her. She stated that the PIO had given contradictory replies and denied the existence of revealing files of correspondence.
In light of the above, the CIC has directed the PIO to allow Hazra Bee access the files concerning the drug trials and provide copies of the documents, free of cost. The CIC has also directed the PIO to provide an affidavit to Hazra Bee and the Commission stating that all available information will be provided by 30th June. The PIO has also been asked to show cause as to why it should not be fined Rs 250 per day for not responding to the original application within the stipulated time period.
Image source: Stephane Bouillet