The Delhi High Court on Friday remarked that the “State has failed..to protect right to life of citizens” as it expressed anguish over information on the death of a COVID-19 patient whose family had been pleading for an ICU bed for the last three days.
“We may record our complete helplessness in the situation. We can only say that the state has failed to protect the Right to Life of people guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution,” a Bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Rekha Palli said.
During the hearing, an advocate sought the help of the Bench saying that his relative urgently needed an ICU bed as the COVID-19 patient’s vitals were critical and he was in the emergency ward of a hospital.
Within minutes, the advocate informed the Bench that the patient had died. “I have failed, my brother-in-law has expired, so no more efforts are needed,” the advocate said.
“No, the state has failed. We all have failed,” the Bench said.
Earlier in the day, Bar Council of Delhi chairman Ramesh Gupta, pleaded with the Bench for help in finding medical facilities for advocates suffering from COVID-19.
An emotional Mr. Gupta broke down in tears as he informed the High Court that he and other lawyers were receiving hundreds of SOS calls everyday for help in securing medical treatment.
Mr. Gupta narrated a call he had received from a close acquaintance on Thursday seeking help in getting a bed. “The man’s father died. His wife and daughter are in quarantine. I arranged two ambulances for four hours each at ₹35,000. Then sourced an oxygen cylinder for ₹70,000. Then, at around midnight, we could get him a bed,” he said.
“This is the situation. We are unable to help all. We want your [the court’s] help,” Mr. Gupta pleaded, adding. “We do not want to criticise anyone or any government. We want my lords to come to our rescue. We have ₹4-5 crore in our funds and will arrange more from lawyers.”
Mr. Gupta said that a private hospital had agreed to give medical treatment to lawyers but it only had oxygen beds and not ICU beds. He urged the court to attach them with a hospital which could provide them critical care in case of need.
“Mr. Gupta, we understand your pain. This surge of COVID has such a huge number...nobody could have imagined that this will attack us in this way,” the Bench said, adding, “It’s a problem of infrastructure not being there. We don’t have doctors, nurses, attendants, oxygen and medicines.”
The High Court, earlier in the hearing directed the authorities to immediately release oxygen concentrators which were seized by the Delhi Police from the black market, as they are required for the treatment of COVID-19 patients.
“While legal proceedings may continue, it is the need of the hour that the said oxygen concentrators are released at the earliest by the competent authority, whether it is the CMM, or the District Commissioner concerned without any delay,” the High Court.
The High Court also questioned the Delhi government on why it had not made any effort to seek help from the Armed forces — the Army, Navy and the Air Force — when such a suggestion had been made in court two days ago.