New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday stayed a recent order by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government that directed private hospitals in the national capital to reserve 80 per cent of ICU beds for coronavirus patients. Also Read - Delhi Records 3,686 New Covid-19 Cases, 47 Deaths; Tally Reaches 3.4 lakh
A single judge bench of the High Court presided by Justice Navin Chawla passed the order while issuing notice on a petition by the ‘Association Of Healthcare Providers’ to quash the order. Also Read - Assam Doctor in PPE Kit Dances to ‘Ghungroo’ to Cheer up COVID-19 Patients, Video Goes Viral | Watch
Senior advocate Maninder Singh, representing the association, said that 33 private hospitals are its members and the Delhi government’s order shall be quashed as it was passed in an irrational manner and is ex-facie perverse.
He said the order has to be stayed immediately as it puts someone’s life in danger and it will be criminal on the part of the hospital to keep an ICU bed vacant and not admit the non-COVID serious patients who are in queue.
Coming down heavily on the AAP government, the court sought to know if other (non-COVID) patients had a right to life. Prima facie Delhi government’s order “appears to be arbitrary, unreasonable and violative of fundamental rights of citizens” guaranteed under the Constitution, Justice Navin Chawla said.
“Do other patients have a right to life or not or is it now that the state says only COVID-19 patients have a right to life. This is making my blood boil. The patient is not going there for a holiday, he is going there in an emergency,” the judge said annoyingly.
“Why do you (Delhi government) discriminate between the two (COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients). Why do you have to keep an ICU bed vacant for COVID-19 patient and the other one in need can die? A person has got a heart attack and you are saying he should die on the road,” he went on to point out.
The bench sought a response from the Delhi government, Director General Health Services (DGHS) and the central government and posted the matter for further hearing on October 16.
“The operation of the order shall remain stayed till the next date of the hearing,” the court said and listed the matter for further hearing on October 16.
Delhi government however defended its decision saying it is only for 33 hospitals and 20 per cent ICU beds remain for the non-COVID-19 serious patients and it has been done keeping in view the sudden spike in cases of the virus.
Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain and advocate Sanjoy Ghose, appearing for the Delhi government, said the situation arising from the COVID-19 pandemic is dynamic in nature requiring urgent decision from the authorities.
They said there is no allegation that the government’s decision suffers from mala fide, discrimination and added that this court should not interfere with the September 13 order.
They also said though they do not have an instruction from the government on this but they were making a statement that the situation will be reviewed within one week.
On September 13, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain had said considering an increase in cases for the last few days, the Department of Health has ordered 33 hospitals to reserve 80 per cent of the total ICU beds available for COVID-19 patients.
“If in some hospitals, non-COVID patients are already admitted, once discharged, the vacant beds will be reserved for COVID patients only,” he had said.
He had reiterated that the hospitals in Delhi that are treating COVID-19 patients are allowed to increase their bed capacity up to 30 per cent, which shall only be used for COVID-19 patients.
Meanwhile, news agency ANI quoted Health Minister Satyendra Jain as saying that the government will challenge today’s decision by the Delhi High Court.
(With inputs from agencies)