Bombay High Court: Addressing the matter of dysfunctional ventilators supplied through PM Cares Fund, the Division Bench of Ravindra V. Ghuge and B. U. Debadwar, JJ., remarked,

“We would not permit experimentation of the ventilators which have undergone major repairs, in treating the patients, since this would be causing a risk/health hazard to the patients and unfortunately, the use of such ventilators may cause loss of life.”

Faulty Ventilators

Observing the report pertaining to the special meeting held in the Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), Aurangabad for conducting an analysis of installation, commissioning and operation of ventilators provided to the State by the Central Government for COVID-19 management, the Bench reached to the findings that:

  1. The ventilators had suffered continuous break down even after repairs;
  2. Desaturation, water drain issue, UI not proper, frequent oxygen sensor failure, water drain failure and defective user interface were some of the defects;
  3. There is a sufficient stock of consumables with the hospitals;
  4. The hospital has 269 trained personnel to operate the ventilators;
  5. Training material/User Manuals had been provided to the hospital at the time of the deployment of the ventilators;
  6. The personnel operating the ventilators were found to be aware of the functioning and operations of the said ventilators;
  7. Amongst the 21 persons who participated in the said inspection and analysis, were the representatives of the manufacture, the procurement agency HLL, CDSCO representatives, DGHS/AIIMS Nagpur and two more representatives of the manufacturer.

The ASGI had submitted before the Court that two senior Doctors, each from the Ram Manohar Lohiya Hospital and the Safdarjang Hospital would be visiting GMCH to carry out extensive inspection of the ventilators at issue and if the ventilators are found to be dysfunctional after inspection/repairs, the manufacturer would be held liable and would be made to replace defective ventilators. The ASGI further contended that no casualty would occur since these ventilators would not be made operational in the treatment of the patients until the team of the doctors visiting GMCH Aurangabad and representatives of the manufacturer ensure that the ventilators are upto desirable operational standards.

Considering the above, the Bench directed Union of India to adopt firm approach with the manufacturer in the event of a supply of defective ventilators and that if found necessary, the Bench may direct returning of the defective ventilators. The Bench clarified that it would be the responsibility of the Union of India to ensure that the defective ventilators are replaced with new functional ventilators. The Bench further made it clear that it would not permit experimentation of the ventilators which had undergone major repairs, in treating the patients as that might risk the life of the patients.

Ambulance Operators over Charging Fare

On the submission of State government that the rate chart had been affixed on every such ambulance by the RTO ensuring that those ambulances which had violated the conditions imposed as regards the fare to be charged had been penalized; the Bench directed that the competent committee deal with the offenders on day-to-day basis. The Bench further directed the RTO to carry out surprise checks of such ambulance vehicles and in the event of noticing any ambulance operator having torn/ripped off the fare chart affixed on the vehicles, such a vehicle can be impounded and heavy penalty may be imposed before granting permission to commission the said vehicle.[Registrar (Judicial) v. Union of India,  2021 SCC OnLine Bom 790, Order dated 02-06-2021]

Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Appearance before the Court by:

Amicus Curiae: Satyajit S. Bora
For State of Maharashtra: Chief PP D. R. Kale
For Union of India: ASGI Ajay G. Talhar
For the respondent 8: Adv. S. G. Chapalgaonkar
For the respondent 22: Adv. K. N. Lokhande
For the respondent 25: Adv. R. K. Ingole

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