A fundamental rights petition filed in the Supreme Court on behalf of Dr. Shafi Shihabdeen states that the allegation of illegal sterilization is false and is a result of personal jealousy which followed the purchasing of a block of land in Kurunegala.
It states that the actions of the Crimes Division OIC and DIG Kithsiri Jayalath among the six respondents cited were an illegal abuse of power and cited letters of recommendations including letters from Consultant Gynecologists and Obstetricians, Medical Officers and Sinhala patients who had rejected the allegations against Dr. Shihabdeen.
The petition filed by Attorney-a-Law Rushdie Habeeb on behalf of Dr. Shihabdeen said the accusations of illegal sterilisation during C-Section surgeries was malicious and made without any clinical evidence. Citing the entire procedure by which a C-Section surgery is conducted the petition states that it is virtually impossible for any surreptitious action by any person in the surgery room.
“A caesarian is done in the operating theatre in the presence of at least six others -- a house officer, a medical officer anaesthetist, a running nurse, a nurse assisting the Senior House Officer [SHO], a paediatric house officer and a midwife. Often it is more than six with the addition of another nurse and other technicians to control and adjust the lights, etc,” the petition states.
The petition states that while the caesarian is being performed, the others in the room are watching the actions of the SHO attentively as they need to respond to his requests and to any unexpected emergency with utmost speed because the life of the mother and the child are involved and as such the allegation of surreptitiousness is absurd in these circumstances.
It states that doing a tubal ligation [standard LRT procedure] will require an additional 10 to 20 minutes extra time in addition to the time taken to perform the caesarian which in itself would raise an alarm and will be discovered.
Responding to allegations of using clamps the petition states that damaging the Fallopian canal/tubes through ‘clamping’ will not be possible as that will require two extra clamps in addition to the forceps, clamps and equipment issued for a caesarian with the extra clamps having to be specifically requested from the hospital and issued by the nurse and which again will raise an alarm and suspicion.
It states that any action to be surreptitious would have raised alarms from within the team. “There are two clamps issued with the caesarian pack but these clamps are kept with the nurse assisting the SHO and handed to be used only after the baby is delivered to cut the umbilical cord. If the SHO had requested the clamps earlier that in itself would have raised an alarm and a complaint would have been lodged long before,” the petition states.
It states that if there has been any damage to the Fallopian tubes by pinching it with the fingers, then the damaged tubes would have caused serious complications such as acute bleeding and infection in the mother within 10 days of delivery which would in itself have alerted the hospital of any wrongdoing.
Responding to allegations of “crushing” Fallopian tubes, the petition states that the said method is not a medically known method of sterilization. “The Fallopian tubes are thick muscular slippery organs and pinching or crushing them with the hand while wearing surgical gloves will be very difficult and require crushing it repeatedly for around 10 to 15 minutes and there is no evidence in medical literature that such a procedure is possible or has been done or that it will cause infertility.
The petition states that there is a level of sub-fertility among patients who undergo C-section surgery. It states that the above was clarified to the public by the Head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo and former President of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
Citing names of 10 Consultant Gyneacologist and Obstertricians (VOG) under whom Dr. Shihabdeen had worked, the petition states that there was not a single complaing against him during his two tenures in the government service.
It states that Dr. Shihabdeen has performed his duties under the guidance of the following Consultants in Obstetrics and Gynaecology:
Dr. Upali Jayawardena, Dr. Rohantha Periyapperuma, Dr. Gunasinghe, Dr. S.B. Ekanayake, Dr. Peshala Dangalla, Dr. Pathinisekara. Dr. Sumith Warnasooriya. Dr. Susantha Amarasinghe and
"The aforementioned Consultants have not raised any questions or made any complaints whatsoever against Dr Shihabdeen with regard to the performance of his duties” the petition states.
Annexing letters and postings of House Officers and other Medical Officers at Kurunegala Teaching Hospital who had been involved in more than 200 caesarians with Dr. Shihabdeen, the petition states that the allegations against Dr. Shafi has been roundly rejected. One of the letters by a Sinhala House Officer with whom Dr. Shihabdeen had performed surgeries states that, “many people want to come out with the truth but they are unable to due to the prevailing situation”.
Citing a letter of recommendation by Consultant Gyneacologist and Obstetrician Dr. Upali Jayawardena who retired from Government Services in 2018 and under whom Dr. Shihabdeen worked, the petition states that Dr. Shihabdeen has discharged his duties with due diligence and care at all times
In the annexed letters from Sinhala patients on whom Dr. Shihabdeen had performed C-sections, the petition states that they had vouched that he had exercised due diligence and care when performing caesarean sections on them and they had not suffered any such infertility or complication as alleged.
The petition alleged that the Kurunegala Crimes Branch OIC and the DIG had “acted and continue to act with malice, for an ulterior purpose and in gross abuse of their power”.
It rejects all allegations of being aligned to any terrorist or extremist organization and that the accusations were a result of malice and jealousy due to the purchase of a block land in Kurunegala and calls for the release of Dr. Shihabdeen and a declaration that his fundamental rights have been infringed upon.
The petition is supported by President's Counsel Faisz Musthapha, Hejaaz Hizbullah, Hafeel Farisz, Shifan Maharoof and M. Jegatheeswary instructed by Abdeen Associates. (SCS)