The Gujarat government defended its policy of giving priority to local people in organ transplantation of brain-dead people. It said that since the number of people seeking donated organs is very high, the government faces a moral dilemma in giving priority to the patient.
The policy to give preference to the people domiciled in Gujarat is coming in the way of donating organs to a woman with Canadian citizenship who is living in Gujarat for the last 13 years. She, along with a woman from Jharkhand who has settled in Ahmedabad for the last seven years, is awaiting a kidney transplant. Yet another woman from Madhya Pradesh is in need of a liver transplant.
Defending the policy, public prosecutor Manisha Shah submitted that the number of organs donated against demand is very low, hence there is an ethical dilemma. When resources are limited, the state government can prioritise for its own local people.
The lawyer argued that the Act for Organ Transplantation is designed to prevent commercialisation amid a shortage of organs.
In the case of Citizen of Canada, the High Court asked the government whether domicile is more important than the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution. The High Court also sought to know whether the state government, can give priority based on how serious the condition of the patient is.
Senior advocate GM Joshi, appearing for the Canadian citizen, argued that there is no rule by which the government can refuse to issue a domicile certificate to his client. If she gets a domicile certificate then she will be covered under the priority policy.
The advocate for the Jharkhand patient questioned the government’s policy of creating a separate list, though there is no provision for this in the law. He submitted that under the guise of state guidelines, separate lists are prepared for locals and outsiders, when the law does not discriminate against any citizen of the country.