On Friday, the Delhi High Court heard a plea seeking ICU beds and a 100-bed facility for lawyers. The Bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli observed that there was no medical infrastructure to support the creation of any new facility for COVID-19 and stated this to be a complete failure of the State. The Court said, “We don’t think it is a crisis of funding. It is infrastructure. Doctors are crying. What do we do? This is the biggest tension we have. This is a complete failure of the State”.
Senior Advocate Ramesh Gupta, who is the Chairman of Bar Council of Delhi, broke down during the hearing and the implored the Court to come to the help of the Bar. Gupta said, “We understand the situation is not very good. I am hearing of 20 deaths every day. People are dying because vaccines, oxygen, and other facilities are not there. We don’t want to say that the Delhi Government is at fault or the Central Government is. Why can’t we involve the army? Help us in whatever way.”
Senior Advocate Ramesh Gupta stated that he was not seeking any financial assistance but merely an attachment with a private hospital for ICU beds and a 100-bed facility in a hospital that was being constructed opposite Dwarka Court. The Court then issued a notice to the Delhi Government and sought a response. And after the Bench was apprised about one of the petitioners, who was looking for an ICU bed passing away some moments ago, the Court claimed, “The State has failed” when a relative of the petitioner broke down and said that he had failed.
The Court, recording its complete helplessness in the current situation, also recorded that the State failed to protect Right to Life of its citizens.
On the 1st of May, the Delhi High Court directed the Centre to supply 490 MT of oxygen to Delhi and warned it of contempt action if the order is not complied with, stating, and “Water has gone above the head. Now we mean business”. Passing the order, the Bench comprising Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli said, “We direct Centre to ensure that Delhi receives its 490 MT today by whatever means”. The Court took note that Delhi is not an industrial State and has no cryogenic tankers that could be used to supply oxygen.
The Court thus fixed the responsibility on the Centre and said, “It falls on the Central Government to arrange the tankers or else it only remains a paper allocation. The allocation to Delhi has been in force from April 20th and not for a single day Delhi has received the allocated supply”. The Court made it clear that in case the order is not acted upon, the authority/Secretary will have to remain present before it. And contempt proceedings could also be mulled to be initiated. The Court further added, “Water has gone above the head. Now we mean business. You will arrange everything now. You made an allocation, you will fulfill it”, when the Additional Solicitor General tried to intervene.
Additional Solicitor General, Chetan Sharma requested the Court not to say anything on the facet of contempt and even implored the Bench to defer the order by half an hour so that the officers were able to explain their stance. Nevertheless, these requests were not accepted by the Court. And turning the requests down, the Court said, “Will we shut our eyes to people dying in Delhi? Enough is enough. Who is asking for a dime more than allocated? Don’t do this. Don’t do that. We don’t appreciate this. This is a new way of arguing that we are seeing”.
The order was passed by the Delhi High Court in the wake of the Delhi Government’s statement that it had no oxygen reserve left to meet the demands of the hospitals which raised SOS calls. It was also noted that 8 deaths were reported by Batra hospital because of no oxygen supply available to them for over an hour.
During the hearing, Senior Advocate Rahul Mehra for the Delhi government stated that while Delhi’s demand was 700MT, allocated oxygen was 490MT, out of which the suppliers had made a voluntary commitment of supply 445MT. Mehra also informed the Court that the quantity for the Delhi border on 1st May was 312 MT only and that this was a deficit of over 100 MT.
Rahul Mehra said, “Our tankers are not given priority. There is no timing, schedule given to us. We are dealing in SOS even today. My officers will have a mental breakdown. A morally conscious person does what best he can. This can’t be permitted”.
This matter will next be taken up on May 3rd, Monday.
The Court in addition observed that even though the recovery rate is high, there seemed to be a shortage of beds available. The Court said, “Every day a substantial number of beds should become available. But that does not appear to be happening. Patients who require hospitalization with oxygen support should normally be in a position to leave within 8-10 days subject to their condition”. Therefore, the Bench ordered all the hospitals, both private and Government, to submit data of daily COVID-19 admissions and discharges in Delhi, starting April 1.
Senior Advocate Rahul Mehra then apprised the Bench about the fact that for whatever reasons, the time patients are taking to get discharged seemed to be in the range of 20-25 days.
The aspect of complete utilization of hospital beds will be taken up on Thursday, May 6th.
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