Effectiveness of litigation in different contexts
While litigation strategies have worked quite well in Delhi, they have been much more challenging to implement in Assam. Lawyers file petitions, but nothing happens with the cases. While we have worked with community members to file a few cases in Assam, they have been stalled at the Guwahati High Court. In 2014, community paralegals informed Nazdeek of an instance of maternal mortality, where a woman died after giving birth at a government hospital. The woman was not provided health care in a timely manner, health care facilities were ill-equipped, and there was negligence by hospital staff – all of which ultimately led to her untimely death. We filed a petition at the Guwahati High Court on behalf of the woman's husband. The case seeks compensation for the petitioner, as well as effective utilization of government budget for improvement of hospitals and blood banks to avoid similar instances of maternal death in the future. There have been only four hearings on this case since 2014. It has been four years and no real action has been taken, and there has been no judgement on the requested relief.
In Delhi, when one files a case, it gets listed. In Assam, if one files a case, it does not get listed unless one goes in front of a judge and pushes for it. It is clear that the court system in Assam will not be as seamless and receptive as it is in Delhi. However, it is vital to continue filing cases when issues are not resolved at the advocacy level, and to continue
seeking improvement in the functioning of the legal system