The Gujarat High Court came down heavily on the State government during the hearing on a suo motu public interest litigation petition on the worsening COVID-19 situation and asked it to file a detailed affidavit by April 15 on the measures the authorities were taking to control the pandemic.
During an online hearing, the Bench of Chief Justice Vikram Nath expressed displeasure with “certain policies” of the State government regarding the tackling of the pandemic amid an increase in cases and deaths and told Advocate General Kamal Trivedi that corrections were required.
‘Steep and galloping’
“We are in the third phase. It is so steep and galloping that the government never envisioned it. If you apply for a test, you will get a report after several days. It takes around seven days to get the RT-PCR report,” Chief Justice Vikram Nath remarked.
In fact, the Chief Justice himself initiated the fresh suo motu petition on Sunday evening after terming the COVID-19 situation as “health emergency” in the State. He constituted a Bench headed by him and listed the matter for urgent hearing on Monday morning.
The Bench held that the situation was grim as per the media reports which could not be rejected entirely.
Shortage of injections
The court was particularly concerned about the shortage of Remdesivir injections and long queues of kins of patients outside the hospitals to procure injection vials. The Chief Justice asked the Advocate General to ensure that the data of the injection stock was placed before the court before the next hearing on April 15.
The Advocate General, during his submission, briefed the court about the steps taken by the government and how it was ramping up the additional beds and other amenities while suggesting that the media reports were “overhyping” the situation on the ground.
After his lengthy submissions seeking to paint a picture of normalcy in the State, the Bench observed that, “After hearing you, we are mesmerised and feel that we have unnecessarily taken cognisance, but the situation is quite grim.”
Meanwhile, following the court’s tough stand, the Vijay Rupani-led government on Monday late evening announced a range of measures to fight the pandemic.
The latest steps taken by the government includes restricting staff attendance to 50% at government and private offices and commercial establishments. Only 50 persons would be allowed at marriages. No political rally or any other social gathering will allowed in the state.
Mr. Rupani also requested the Centre to set up a 900-bed DRDO-run hospital in Ahmedabad. The government also announced that to meet growing requirement for oxygen, 70% of the total oxygen produced in Gujarat would be reserved for health sector only.
Mr. Rupani added that more beds would be added in next few days in all major cities and districts of the State.
On Monday, Gujarat recorded 6021 new infections and 55 deaths in a sharp rise. So far, 4,855 persons have died of COVID-19 in Gujarat.