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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

‘Citizen being shortchanged’: Delhi govt to HC on Baijal staying oxygen death panel

Court grants two weeks’ time to the Lieutenant Governor for filing a reply to a petition seeking operationalisation of the high-powered committee.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: August 24, 2021 7:56:42 am
The Delhi government’s decision to set up the panel to examine causes behind deaths during the Covid pandemic was stayed by L-G Anil Baijal | Representational image/Express photo by Nirmal Harindran

The Delhi High Court Monday granted two weeks’ time to the Lieutenant Governor for filing of a reply to a petition seeking operationalisation of a high-powered committee to examine causes behind deaths during the Covid pandemic. The Delhi government’s decision to set up the panel was stayed by L-G Anil Baijal.

Senior advocate Rahul Mehra, representing the Delhi government before the division bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh, had earlier submitted that the L-G had not referred the matter to the President and primarily objected to setting up the high-powered committee on the ground that the Supreme Court has already constituted a sub-group committee.

Mehra made the submission in response to the petition filed by a woman whose husband died of Covid-19 in May at a private hospital. The plea argues that non-operationalisation of the committee was arbitrary and smacks of mala fide.

“The government of the day has taken a decision that a maximum of Rs 5 lakh of compensation, depending upon the committee report, wherever there is negligence, shall be granted. What is now taking place in Delhi is… because of this conflict which needs to be decided at the earliest … the citizen is being shortchanged. That can’t be permitted. At least from the point of view of the citizen, there should be an end to it,” Mehra told the court.

The petition, which has now been listed for hearing on September 21, argues before the court that there was no reasonable justification for stalling the functioning of the high-powered committee since issues such as health or grant of ex-gratia monetary reliefs or other benefits to the affected sections of society are matters which fall “within the exclusive domain of the Government of Delhi”.

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