Updated: July 20, 2021 7:10:46 am
The Supreme Court on Monday took serious exception to the Gujarat government giving hospitals and nursing homes operating without requisite fire safety clearance more time to comply with the norms and said that it had already directed in December, 2020, that fire audits be conducted in hospitals and deficiencies rectified.
A bench of Justices D Y Chandradchud and M R Shah said that “once there is a mandamus of the Court, it is well settled that it cannot be overridden, and less so by an executive notification”.
“You can’t, by an executive notification, nullify a direction of the Supreme Court like this”, said Justice Chandrachud.
The court was referring to a July 8, 2021 notification of the Gujarat Urban Development and Urban Housing Department, giving hospitals and nursing homes time till the end of June 2022 to comply with the norms.
The court said the order was tantamount to saying these hospitals will not have to comply with the order till the given time when the court had in December last year asked Covid care hospitals that had not obtained No Objection Certificates (NOCs) from the state fire department to immediately apply for the same.
“You have been extending the deadline, which cannot be done in view of our December 18, 2020 order”, the court told the Gujarat government counsel.
Justice Chandrachud remarked that “hospitals have become a large industry now based on human distress. We cannot allow them to prosper at the cost of human lives. Let such hospitals not operate in buildings with four rooms. Let such hospitals be closed and allow the state to create better health care facilities”.
“Let not the impression go that the state is shielding such hospitals,” added Justice Shah.
The December 2018 direction was issued in the wake of patients in blazes in hospitals in Rajkot and Ahmedabad. The bench had then pointed out that 16 notices were sent to a hospital in Rajkot but nothing came out of it.
On Monday, the court also questioned a report by a commission on the issue of fire safety in hospitals being filed in a sealed cover and said “it is not a nuclear secret but just a report. Why in a sealed cover?”
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