Supreme Court: Taking sup motu cognizance on the basis of media reports and programmes aired in several channels presenting horrific scenes from LNJP hospital, which is a COVID-19 dedicated hospital, the 3-judge bench of Ashok Bhushan, SK Kaul and MR Shah, JJ issued notice to all States and Union Terrotiries seeking Status report with regard to Government hospitals, patient care and the details of the staff, infrastructure, etc. on the next date of hearing so that appropriate directions be issued by the Court as found necessary.
“All these facts, which have been brought to the notice of the Court by the media reports, clearly indicate a very sorry state of affairs of the patients of Covid-19 in the Government hospitals in the NCT of Delhi as well as in other States.”
Referring to a program aired on India TV on 10.06.2020, the Court noticed,
“The patients are in the wards and the dead bodies are also in the same wards. Dead bodies are seen also in the lobby and waiting area. The patients were not supplied with any oxygen support or any other support, no saline drips were shown with the beds and there was no one to attend the patients. Patients are crying and there is no one to attend them. This is the condition of the Government Hospital of Delhi which has capacity of 2000 beds.”
The Court also took note of the fact that the Government App itself gives the details of beds occupied in the Government and Private hospitals in Delhi. In the Government hospitals, the number of beds is 5814, out of which 2620 are occupied. It, hence, said,
“The large number of beds in Government COVID Hospital being vacant in a situation where patients suspected of Covid-19 are running from pillar to post to get admission in any hospital tells about the mismanagement and sorry state of Government hospitals in Delhi.”
Coming down heavily of the Government, the Court said that the duty of the State of NCT Delhi does not end in informing the people that it has arranged 5814 beds in Government hospitals and 9535 beds including private hospitals. The State and its officers are also duty bound to ensure that patients are taken care, attended, provided all medical facility, the hospitals have necessary infrastructure and staff.
The Court also took note of the media reports that indicated there is an increase in the number of patients affected by Covid-19 every day in the entire country especially in Delhi, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Chennai and Ahmedabad. The number of patients increasing day by day is 10,000 or more per day.
On the issue of testing gone down in the State of NCT of Delhi, the Court said,
“Non-testing of the patients is not a solution to the problem rather increase in the testing facility is the duty of the State, so that people may come to know about their health status regarding Covid19 and they may take appropriate care and treatment of Covid-19.”
The Court will next hear the matter on 17.06.2020.
[IN RE THE PROPER TREATMENT OF COVID 19 PATIENTS AND DIGNIFIED HANDLING OF DEAD BODIES IN THE HOSPITALS ETC., 2020 SCC OnLine SC 504 , order dated 12.06.2020]