HC raps govt. for not operationalising hospital

Young beneficiaries after getting vaccinated at a government school in Janakpuri, west Delhi, on Wednesday.   | Photo Credit: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday questioned the Delhi government on why it has not yet fully operationalised its 1,241-bedded Indira Gandhi Hospital, which presently has only 80 beds available, that too for non-serious COVID patients.

A Bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Rekha Palli said, “If a third wave comes, as many experts are warning it might, and your facility is not up and running [to full capacity], then again we would be back to this situation”.

The High Court said that Delhi government should learn from the “bitter experience” of the people during the onslaught of the second wave of the pandemic.

Senior advocate Rahul Mehra, representing the Delhi government, said completion of the hospital was not a pressing issue as around 4,500 beds were available in the Capital at present.

Responding to this, the court remarked that though situation may have “somewhat improved” with regards to availability of COVID beds, “we can’t forget the situation which existed just a couple of days ago, when serious patients were in need of hospitalisation”.

The High Court directed the Delhi government to submit a detailed affidavit with the timeline of completion of Indira Gandhi Hospital, along with the reason for delay if any. It also remarked that the project appeared to have been not completed due to “lethargy of the State”.

The court said the timeline for completion of the Indira Gandhi Hospital should be realistic and once placed before it, “should be adhered to”. The Delhi government will have to respond to the issue by May 24.

During the hearing, the High Court told the Centre it was “high time” that maximum retail price (MRP) of oxygen concentrators and other equipment in demand for COVID treatment was fixed to immediately stop their hoarding and black marketing.

The court also issued contempt notices to all the persons named in the FIRs lodged after May 2 in connection with hoarding and black-marketing of medicines and equipment required for treating COVID-19 and directed them to appear before it virtually on May 19.

Black-marketing cases

On May 2, the High Court had ordered that individuals, booked for black-marketing and hoarding be brought before it for taking contempt of court action against them.

The HC was informed that in the hearings before the trial courts, in connection with these FIRs, the public prosecutors as well as the judicial officers appeared to be unaware of the May 2 order of the Bench to book those engaged in hoarding and black-marketing.

It was also informed that a trial court has said that offences cannot be “made up” against such individuals and the option was to book them for contempt of court if they are selling medicines or equipment at exorbitant rates.

It was shown media reports where the trial court, while hearing the anticipatory bail filed by businessman Navneet Kalra in connection with the seizure of oxygen concentrators from his upscale restaurants, has said that first a law has to be made to regulate the prices and people cannot be penalised in a hurry because the High Court wanted steps to be taken.

Senior advocate Rajshekhar Rao, amicus curiae in the case, said the trial court cannot be blamed as MRP has not yet been fixed for a majority of the imported equipment and the Central government has to inform the High Court what steps it has taken.

The amicus curiae said a lot of people will escape prosecution in the long run as no maximum retail price has been fixed for the imported medicines and equipment for COVID treatment.

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Printable version | Jun 15, 2021 2:54:10 PM |

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