The Supreme Court on Tuesday raised questions over the Gujarat government’s affidavit in a matter related to incidents of fire at Covid-designated hospitals in Rajkot and Ahmedabad. The court, which had taken suo motu cognisance of five deaths in the Rajkot fire on November 27, said “everything is good” according to the state’s response.
“We have seen your counter affidavit. Your stand is contrary to your own Chief Electrical Engineer, who says there are issues with wiring. According to your counter, everything is good,” Justice M R Shah, sharing a bench with Justices Ashok Bhushan and R Subhash Reddy, told the state government’s counsel.
Justice Shah said facts cannot be suppressed and need to come out in the correct fashion. Appearing for the Centre, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta pointed out that a committee headed by retired High Court judge Justice D A Mehta was enquiring into the fire in Rajkot.
“But what about Ahmedabad?” asked Justice Shah.
Eight Covid patients admitted to the Shrey Hospital in Ahmedabad were killed when a blaze engulfed its ICU on August 6.
The bench asked Mehta to look into the report and ensure that a better affidavit is filed in the apex court. Mehta told the bench he would look into the report and talk to the state government on this.
The bench will hear the matter again on December 3.
Meanwhile, the SG informed the bench that the Union Home Ministry has filed an affidavit explaining the steps taken by the Centre in response to the fire tragedies.
The affidavit said that “to ensure that adequate safety measures are put in place by the respective state governments as per the applicable rules and guidelines, and to ensure that such incidents do not happen again”, the Central government, through the Home Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs has, in a letter dated November 30, written to all Chief Secretaries of the States and Union Territories, raising “serious concern for non-adherence of the fire safety measures by the authorities in the respective States/UTs”.
The affidavit also said that on November 28, the Directorate General (Fire Services, Civil Defence & Home Guards), Ministry of Home Affairs, wrote to all the Chief Secretaries seeking a status report by December 4 on the implementation of fire safety guidelines.
States and UTs have also been asked to send by December 4 the status of the NOCs issued to hospitals and nursing Homes and their renewals.
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