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"No Reasonable, Lawful Justification For LG To Object To Constitution Of HPC For Probing Into Covid Deaths": Delhi Govt Tells High Court

Nupur Thapliyal
25 Aug 2021 4:39 AM GMT
No Reasonable, Lawful Justification For LG To Object To Constitution Of HPC For Probing Into Covid Deaths: Delhi Govt Tells High Court
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The Delhi Government has informed the Delhi High Court that there is no reasonable and lawful justification for the Lieutenant Governor to object to the constitution of High Powered Committee for probing into the deaths that happened due to covid 19 pandemic.The said High Powered Committee was constituted by the Delhi Government in the aftermath of second covid wave consisting of medical...

The Delhi Government has informed the Delhi High Court that there is no reasonable and lawful justification for the Lieutenant Governor to object to the constitution of High Powered Committee for probing into the deaths that happened due to covid 19 pandemic.

The said High Powered Committee was constituted by the Delhi Government in the aftermath of second covid wave consisting of medical experts tasked with the mandate to carry out a fact-finding exercise, on a case-to-case basis for ascertaining the probable cause of death after studying the records of the case produced by the hospital concerned.

The Delhi Government also informed that the said policy decision was taken keeping in mind the indisputable fact that it was neither feasible nor possible to expect a constitutional court, High Court or the Supreme Court, to embark on an exercise requiring adjudication of questions of fact in the first instance in exercise of the power of judicial review.

However, according to the Delhi Government, the LG on June 8 expressed a view contrary to that of the Health Minister of GNCTD while stating that the Department should await the outcome of proceedings in the Supreme Court or High Court including the guidelines framed by NDMA.

"It is respectfully submitted that the said view is based on a misconception regarding the subject matter of the proceedings pending in the Hon'ble Supreme Court and the function of the HPC constituted by the GNCTD," the affidavit filed by the Delhi Government reads.

The affidavit has been filed in a petition moved by a wife whose 34 year old husband died during the second Covid wave. It was therefore her case that her husband was not suffering from any co-morbidities and that the discharge summary did not explain the cause of his death.

Plea was therefore filed seeking a direction on the Delhi Government to operationalize the HPC for determination of the cause of death of her husband.

Placing reliance on the Supreme Court orders passed in related matters, the Delhi Government has said that the issue of conducting a fact-finding exercise into the cause of death of persons suffering from Covid-19 has not been considered by the Apex Court.  

"There is no gainsaying that the second wave of the pandemic has wreaked havoc in the lives of the residents of Delhi and resulted in largescale casualties. While there can be no reparation for the loss of a loved one, the attempt of the answering Respondent, an elected Government responsible to the residents of the NCT, is to provide a means to establishing accountability for the deaths," the affidavit reads further.

In view of this, the Delhi Government has submitted that the views given by the LG on June 8 interdicting the constitution of the HPC are misconceived and do not withstand the test laid down by the Supreme Court for exercise of power under the proviso to Article 239AA (4). 

Stating that it's decision to constitute the HPC must be considered as final and binding, the Delhi Government has said:

"In light of the aforesaid factual background, the clear and indisputable position that emerges is that, there is no reasonable and lawful justification for objecting to the constitution of a HPC in terms of the policy decisions of the GNCTD dated 27.05.2021 and 04.06.2021 or to prevent its functioning on a warfooting at the earliest."

Title: Riti Singh Verma v. State of NCT of Delhi & Ors.

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