Delhi High Court: Prathiba M. Singh, J., decided over a writ petition which was filed through the son of the Petitioner, who was an 83-year old senior citizen, in the hospital run by the Respondent 2. i.e., Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (“IHBAS”), on 29-04-2021 due to an emergency medical condition suggesting a neurological ailment.

The petitioner had suffered a brain stroke on 29-04-2021 and was admitted to IHBAS, thereafter he was detected with fever and upon conducting an RT-PCR test, he turned out to be positive for COVID-19. The petitioner in the petition stated that IHBAS, was not a designated COVID-19 hospital thus his attendant was asked to shift the petitioner into a COVID-19 hospital. The petitioner prayed that a direction be issued to Respondent- hospital to treat the patient there itself, and not discharge him, as it would jeopardize his life and chances of survival.

Mr Gautam Narayan, ASC appearing for the GNCTD, submitted that a bed could be made available to the Petitioner, in Lok Narayan Jai Prakash Hospital (“LNJP”), which was also a COVID hospital and also had the facilities even to take care of the Neurological/Cardiac issues of the Petitioner. Mr Tushar Sannu, counsel appearing for IHBAS submitted that the hospital was not treating this case in an adversarial manner, and the patient was currently stable with 5 MTs oxygen. He had been kept in a transit COVID facility, where three COVID patients were currently admitted.

Counsel for the petitioner Mr Kamlesh Kumar submitted that the petitioner as well as the son of the petitioner both had expressed a deep sense of apprehension in shifting the patient from IHBAS to LNJP Hospital, on the ground that the main problem which the Petitioner is facing is a neurological issue, which can be taken care of at IHBAS in a proper manner further, the patient was not comfortable in being moved to a general hospital, and he was satisfied with the treatment he was receiving at IHBAS.

The Court observed that the risks associated with the doctors and arrangements at IHBAS, it being a non- COVID facility, have been appraised of to the counsel and son of the Petitioner, however, despite the choice being available to move to LNJP Hospital, both the counsel and the son of the Petitioner have opted to let the Petitioner remain in IHBAS and view of the above considering the fact that medical acceptability for the Petitioner to move to LNJP hospital was not there, it is directed that the Petitioner- patient, would continue to remain at IHBAS. The Court however made clear that t IHBAS would not be held liable in any manner, inasmuch as the Petitioner and his family were conscious of the fact that the doctors at IHBAS may not have the same specialization required for a COVID patient – it not being a COVID-19 designated hospital and also due to the fact that it is on the Petitioner’s insistence that he is not being moved to a COVID facility.

The Court further considering the acute shortage and severe demand for beds pertaining to COVID-19 patients and COVID-19 related facilities in the city of Delhi, the Principal Secretary, Ministry of Health, GNCTD, shall process the proposal from IHBAS as it had been revealed that IHBAS had a total capacity of over 200 beds, and at this point of time, approximately only about 50 beds were occupied. IHBAS was stated to have already moved a proposal to the GNCTD, to make available about 60 to 80 beds, and convert the same into a COVID facility.

[Brijpal Singh v. Govt of NCT Delhi, 2021 SCC OnLine Del 1998, decided on 07-05-2021]

Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 

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