Delhi High Court

Delhi High Court: In a petition filed by the Delhi Medical Association to raise a challenge to the communication dated 02-08-2019, issued by the Directorate General of Health Services, Government (NCT of Delhi) (respondent 2) to request the Delhi Fire Service (respondent 3) to undertake an audit of fire safety measures employed by all private hospitals and nursing homes in Delhi, a Single Judge Bench of Sanjeev Narula, J. ordered an inspection of the nursing homes forming part of the Delhi Medical Association to assess the prevailing provisions for fire safety.


The petitioners in the present matter were representing the interests of the private nursing homes in Delhi, and apart from raising a challenge against the communication dated 02-08-2019, sought setting aside of the show cause notice dated 06-06-2019 that was issued to a nursing home in respect of their failure to comply with the extant fire and life safety requirements, specifically the National Building Code of India, 2016.

The petitioner submitted that the mandate to obtain a fire safety certificate from respondent 3 did not extend to the nursing homes that were being run on ‘mixed-use’ lands in residential areas. It was also argued that respondents 2 and 3 erroneously considered such nursing homes as ‘institutional buildings’ and insisted on the requirement of a fire safety clearance before renewal of registration.

Respondent 1 submitted that nursing homes and hospitals were ‘institutional occupancy buildings’ and stated that since the nursing homes fell under the category of ‘institutional buildings below the height of 15 meters’, they must obtain a fire safety certificate.

Analysis and Decision

After considering the submissions by the parties, the Court stated that the recent incidents of fire breakouts in nursing homes have brought to notice significant lapses in fire safety compliance.

The Court stated that the safety of the public, particularly the staff and patients at the nursing home, is of paramount importance. The Court stated that its immediate priority was to safeguard public safety and ensure that the basic safety requirements, as mandated by law, were installed at the premises of the private nursing homes.

Thus, notwithstanding the petitioners’ contentions concerning the challenges in implementing infrastructural alterations, the Court deemed it apt to order an inspection of the nursing homes that formed part of the Delhi Medical Association to assess the prevailing provisions for fire safety.

Further, the Court directed respondents 2 and 3 to constitute a Joint Committee along with the Delhi Development Authority (respondent 4) for the inspection of all the nursing homes that were members of the Delhi Medical Association within two weeks. The petitioners were directed by the Court to provide a list of all member-nursing homes to respondent 2 within one week.

The Court directed the Committee to formulate a comprehensive report delineating all non-compliances, except for structural defects, with fire safety norms by the nursing homes and also directed the report to be filed with the Court within four weeks from the date of inspection.

Further, the Court directed that if required, the Joint Committee shall issue notices to the defiant nursing homes, and to enlist the defaults while suggesting alternative remedial measures that could be adopted by them. The Court said that a reasonable period of time must be given to the nursing homes to issue compliance.

The Court pointed out that the sub-committee established in 2019 for reviewing the fire safety measures installed in nursing homes, had not rendered their final report/recommendations.

Further, the Court requested the sub-committee to promptly conclude their deliberations and submit a final report to the Court and stated that the report must contain alternative corrective measures for infrastructural deficiencies of the nursing homes so that an effective mechanism could be established while safeguarding the public interest.

The matter is to be re-notified on 14-10-2024.

[Delhi Medical Association v. Government (NCT of Delhi), 2024 SCC OnLine Del 4704, Decided on 03-07-2024]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

For Petitioners — Advocate Puneet Jain, Advocate Mann Arora

For Respondents — ASC Avishkar Singhvi, Advocate Naved Ahmed, Advocate Vivek Kr. Singh, Advocate Shubham Kr., Standing Counsel Manika Tripathi, Advocate Animesh Kumar Gaba, Advocate Naveen K. Sarawat, Advocate Shiva Khandelwal, Advocate Jatin Sharma

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