THE DELHI High Court Thursday said that the continuation of Delhi government’s order directing 33 major hospitals to reserve 80 percent of ICU beds for COVID-19 patents is “inhuman” and at present there should be no reservation. Following the observation, the government told the court that it will take a decision on or before December 26 on the recommendations of the committee, which has suggested scaling down the reservation to 60 percent.
“With this kind of data, there is a serious doubt on this. Continuation of this order is inhuman,” observed Justice Navin Chawla while referring to the information presented by the petitioner Association of Healthcare Providers (Indian) regarding the number of vacant ICU beds in the hospitals after recent decline of COVID-19 cases in the national capital. The Association has challenged the government order, which was passed by the state in September, arguing that it amounts to nationalization of the private sector hospitals and also violates the rights of non-COVID patients.
While observing against the reservation, the court said the government can come back later to the court in case the numbers rise again. “Today, 800-900 ICU beds are vacant. It cannot be sustained,” it said further.
Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain told the court that the government is yet to take a decision on the committee’s recommendations dated December 23 and will hold a meeting by December 26. Senior Advocate Maninder Singh, who represents the association of the hospitals, earlier described the order as the government’s populist measure and argued that only judicial review can keep a check on the “brazen and unbridled jurisdiction usurped by the state in the case”.
The court on Thursday also asked the government to involve Dr V.K. Paul, Member, NITI Aayog and Dr Randeep Guleria, AIMS Director in the deliberations and grant an opportunity to the petitioner to make a representation before the decision is finally taken. It also said the data presented by the petitioner would be an important material to be considered by the government in taking its final decision.
While adjourning the matter for next hearing before a vacation bench on December 28, the court said the government’s decision shall be placed before the court on that date.
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