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Written by: Shruti Srivastava (Intern)

Edited by: Anubhav Yadav (Content Head & Developer)

In a recent judgment by the Kerala High Court, it was held that being poor does not restrict an individual from donating organs. The court also remarked that our country has no shortage of large-hearted individuals who are eager to help people through organ donation, notwithstanding their poor economic status, and saw organ donation as a measure to mitigate the stratification prevalent in society. While delivering the judgment, Justice PV Kunhikrishnan observed, “There is no rule that poor people can’t donate organs. Being poor is not a sin.”

Mathrubhumi, a Malayalam daily in Kerala reported in one of its issues, the plight of the petitioner (the donee), who was suffering from renal failure and had to undergo dialysis thrice a week. The Court took judicial notice of this report, appreciating the same, mentioning that such reports streamline the path of helping needy people.

The petitioner, who also has a child suffering from Spastic Cerebral Palsy, was in dire need of a donor after none of her relatives was found suitable for transplantation. It was then that the second petitioner, an old acquaintance of the former, came forward to donate her kidney. However, the district level authorisation committee rejected the application, mentioning that the altruistic motive of the donation was not proved before it. Apart from that, the committee also opined that the donor belongs to a poor family, living in a locality where “it was learned that there were several unrelated previous kidney donors.” With this, the committee also declared that the report was false; an observation is made after an interrogation with the husband and wife enrolled in the document.

However, the court observed that there was some misunderstanding about the place of residence of the donor and her husband and hence, the argument about the report being false is not specious. Further, the court went on to highlight the importance of interrogating a sensitive and conducive atmosphere in cases like these, so that the interests of people from different socio-economic classes are taken care of. “While interrogating the parties, the respondent should take a mild stand. A friendly atmosphere is to be created by the respondent while interrogating”, the judgment stated.

Apart from that, the court also mentioned that the actual job of the committee was to make sure that no commercial transaction was taking place and that the transaction does not entail any illegal procedure. The contention of the report being ‘false’ was out rightly rejected by the court as the committee did not have the authority to declare it as one.

This is not the first time that the Kerala High Court has held that organ donation should not be viewed from the prism of differences of caste, financial background, criminal record etc. In another recent judgment, the same judge, Justice Kunhikrishnan had set aside the order of the district authorisation committee which barred a criminal from organ donation.

There is no criminal kidney or criminal liver or criminal heart! There is no difference between the organ of a person without a criminal antecedent and the organ of a person who has criminal antecedents”, remarked the court, allowing the criminal to donate. Hence, the court paved the way for the Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Act to go beyond the barriers, so that it becomes “a path breaker for communal harmony and secularism.”


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