A bench of Justice R.M. Lodha and Justice H.L. Gokhale issued notice after senior counsel Colin Gonsalves told it that NGOs - who have been outsourced to carrying out steralisation - were doing it in the most unhygienic conditions.

Gonsalves told the court that the NGOs lacked trained medical personnel and were administering general anesthesia instead of local anesthesia as required. He told the court that in one case, the patient was not even given anesthesia.

Gonsalves appeared for the petitioner and health activists Devika Biswas who had done an extensive work in this field in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand.

He alleged that in some cases, school desks were used as operation table, and simple torches used to provide lighting. The senior counsel told the court that in one case, 61 operations were performed in one hour, and the doctor who was conducting this invasive surgery was getting just Rs. 75 per case.

The senior counsel told the court that guidelines were framed by the apex court in one of the cases which were applicable all over the country but the same were being ignored by the state governments.

Pointing to the privatisation of family sterilisation programme, Gonsalves told the court that in Bihar, the entire programme has been outsourced to one NGO. He said that government should not allow this and sought an inquiry into it.

The petition said that despite extensive guidelines of the apex court, the inhuman sterilization, particularly in rural areas, continues with reckless disregard to the lives of the poor women.

Biswas, who hails from Bihar's Araria district, said in her petition that the state "shows the most horrendous practices persist in violation of apex court guidelines".

The petition said that unsafe sterilization camps are a norm through out the country. "Reports and fact findings from Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh demonstrate that standards of hygiene, consent and care are routinely ignored," the petition said.