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‘State affidavit vague’: HC adds more parties to plea on Bharuch hospital fire

The parties were issued notices and have been directed to file their response to the allegations made in the plea by paty-in-person advocate Amit Panchal, by May 21. The matter has been kept for further hearing on May 25.

By: Express News Service | Ahmedabad |
May 11, 2021 9:15:22 pm
The remains after the fire at The Welfare Hospital in Bharuch. (Express File Photo)

Remarking that the affidavit filed by the state government was “vague”, the Gujarat High Court on Tuesday directed the Bharuch municipality, Bharuch chief medical officer, authorities of Patel Welfare Hospital run by Bombay Patel Welfare Society and the hospital’s nodal officer be added as parties to the litigation that sought for a report on a fire incident in the hospital on May 1 that killed 18, including two nurses.

Mobin Peerzada, assistant administrator as a nodal officer or coordinator, who was nominated by the Trust, under a memorandum of understanding between the district collector and the trust, and the chief district medical officer Bharuch, before whom an inspection report of the hospital was submitted highlighting “various defects and lack of fire NOC”, were made parties for their direct involvement and knowledge of the lapses.

The parties were issued notices and have been directed to file their response to the allegations made in the plea by paty-in-person advocate Amit Panchal, by May 21. The matter has been kept for further hearing on May 25.

Panchal, in his plea, had highlighted that the hospital was operating without valid fire NOC and sought that officials and authorities concerned be held accountable.

He also sought that the DA Mehta Inquiry Commission report submitted on March 30 that looked into the Shrey fire hospital incident in August 2020 that killed eight patients and Uday Shivanand Hospital in Rajkot in November 2020 that killed five, be made public or be submitted before the court.

An affidavit by RH Vasava, joint secretary with the urban development and urban housing department of the state government, filed before the high court on May 10, submitted that while the hospital’s old building had a valid fire NOC, a new building where a Covid-facility was functioning did not have it.

The affidavit noted that “the hospital appears to have started using the ground floor of the new building nearby the old building as Covid facility without any intimation to the Bharuch nagarpalika…”.

The bench of Justices Bela Trivedi and Bhargav Karia orally remarked, “If you read the affidavit closely, they are pleading ignorance of the Covid hospital being run in the new building… It is not believable…Somebody has to be made accountable… Merely appointing (inquiry) commissions serve no purpose.”

Justice Karia also pulled up state government counsel advocate general (AG) Kamal Trivedi, saying, “Anxiety of the court is what are you supposed to do to prevent such incidents?…Orders were passed 20 years ago by this court and till today but nothing is happening…it amounts to contemptuous action…”

Trivedi submitted orally that under provisions Commissions of Inquiry Act, commission report has to be studied, an action report has to be prepared and thereafter only can the inquiry report be tabled in the Assembly. “There is no question of keeping the report under the carpet,” he added.

Trivedi also added that the state can do little when “a person starts Covid facility surreptitiously, without getting authority’s (permission)… what can we do…”

Justice Karia countered, “How can it be possible? All Covid facilities are required to be intimated to the authority…how can you keep track of the number of patients and treatment and compile the data…”

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