Dealing with a plea concerning COVID management in the state of Bihar, the Patna High Court on Tuesday (May 4) observed that at this stage, if some drastic step is not taken, the situation in the State of Bihar, arising out of the COVID crisis, which has already gone beyond control, is likely to deteriorate to immeasurable proportions.
The bench of Justice Chakradhari Sharan Singh and Justice Mohit Kumar Shah was hearing the suo motu case concerning reported deficient healthcare facilities in the State to meet the challenges posed by the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic.
Importantly, the Court, at the outset, observed,
"The Court records, at this stage, total dissatisfaction over the progress made by the Health Department, Government of Bihar on many fronts in fighting COVID crises...At this stage, in our opinion, if some drastic step is not taken, the situation in the State of Bihar, arising out of the COVID crisis, which has already gone beyond control, is likely to deteriorate to immeasurable proportions."
Further, the Court said that it will be failing in its duty if necessary orders are not passed befitting the present situation, in the larger public interest, to ensure the protection of the right to life of the people in the State of Bihar.
However, the Advocate General submitted that before any order was passed by this Court, the State of Bihar may be given an opportunity to file an affidavit, as, according to him, the State Government had successfully met the challenge arising out of the COVID-19 crisis.
He also added that the best which could have been done was done and there had been a substantial increase in the healthcare facilities and COVID beds to facilitate treatment of the COVID patients.
To this, the Court said,
"Let an affidavit be filed on behalf of the State of Bihar by 06.05.2021 at 10.30 a.m., a copy of which must be communicated in the evening of 05.05.2021. The State of Bihar shall be obliged to keep in mind various facts emerging from the orders passed by this Court from time to time in this matter, while filing the counter affidavit."
The Additional Solicitor General for India has also been directed to seek instructions in the light of the Court's proceedings so that the Court may pass appropriate orders on 06th May 2021.
Further, the Court refrained from issuing any direction, despite the fact that in spite of repeated directions issued by this Court, in the Court's opinion, most of them have remained on paper and have not been complied with, awaiting the response of the State Government.
Importantly, in the midst of today's proceeding, the Court also took note of the fact that a lockdown had been imposed till 15th May 2021 in the State of Bihar.
Bihar will go into a lockdown till May 15, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar (@NitishKumar) says in a tweet.He has directed the Crisis Management Group to take action to formulate detailed guidelines in this regard.#biharlockdown #lockdown2021 pic.twitter.com/BqWbq8swkR— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) May 4, 2021
During the course of the previous hearing (May 3), the Patna High court had observed that in the absence of an action plan, the healthcare system in Bihar qua COVID-19 appeared to be moving aimlessly.