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"State Inaction In Providing Healthcare To Citizens Violates Article 21": Patna High Court Directs State Human Rights Commission To Conduct Surprise Inspections At Covid Hospitals

Akshita Saxena
21 April 2021 7:06 AM GMT
State Inaction In Providing Healthcare To Citizens Violates Article 21: Patna High Court Directs State Human Rights Commission To Conduct Surprise Inspections At Covid Hospitals
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"If Court reaches a conclusion that COVID patients are being allowed to die because of lack of oxygen supply, the Court will surely intervene "

Expressing strong displeasure over absence of any comprehensive action plan of the State Government for meeting the present surge of COVID cases in Bihar, the Patna High Court on Monday sought intervention of the Bihar Human Rights Commission. A Division Bench comprising of Justices CS Singh and Mohit Kumar Shah stated that lack of adequate healthcare, especially in the middle of...

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Expressing strong displeasure over absence of any comprehensive action plan of the State Government for meeting the present surge of COVID cases in Bihar, the Patna High Court on Monday sought intervention of the Bihar Human Rights Commission.

A Division Bench comprising of Justices CS Singh and Mohit Kumar Shah stated that lack of adequate healthcare, especially in the middle of a pandemic, is violative of citizens' right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution.

"Any inaction on the part of the State, within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution of India, in providing adequate health care to its citizen, particularly during the prevailing COVID-19 situation, would be violative of right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution of India," the Bench said.

The Bench has also taken a stern view against acute shortage of oxygen supply for medical use.

"Serious issues have been raised about deaths taking place in various government and private hospitals because of lack of supply of oxygen. This Court cannot overlook such aspects if such allegations are true as it directly relates to a citizen's fundamental right. If the Court reaches a conclusion that COVID patients have been or are being allowed to die because of lack of oxygen supply, the Court exercising its power of judicial review will surely intervene and pass appropriate orders in this regard," the Bench cautioned.

It has therefore directed the State Human Rights Commission to conduct surprise inspections of Dedicated COVID Hospitals (DCHs) and Dedicated COVID Health Centers (DCHCs) as well as COVID Care Centers (CCCs) to find out as to whether adequate facilities are available there or not with the desired standard of sanitization and cleanliness.

The development comes days after the Bench noted discrepancy in the data shown by the State regarding availability of health infrastructure, and the reported ground realities.

"If the said data and statistics, as presented, are taken to be correct, the number of beds available in the State of Bihar is much more than the number of patients who require admission in COVID Care Centres (CCC), Dedicated COVID Health Centres (DCHS) and Dedicated COVID Hospitals (DCH), except for Patna. Prima facie we are not satisfied with the said depiction," the High Court had observed in an earlier order.

Other developments

During the hearing, the Bench addressed various issues surrounding the issues at hand:

Shortage of Oxygen

During the hearing, the Bench noted that an officer of the Patna High Court succumbed to COVID disease because oxygen was not available in the hospitals.

Intending to take up this matter as an example to examine whether Court's intervention's is needed or not, the Bench has directed the Registrar General, Patna High Court to submit an exhaustive report to this Court explaining in detail the circumstances in which the said officer of the High Court died.

Appointment of Controller of Drugs in the State

The Bench was informed that the post of Controller of Drugs in the State has not been filled up on a regular basis and a person is holding the said post on ad hoc basis since years together.

In this backdrop, the State Government has been directed to inform the Court as to whether it has a regular Controller of Drugs or not.

Remdesvir has no proven effectiveness in treating Covid-19

AIIMS Patna Head has informed the Bench that a wrong perception is prevailing in the minds of general public regarding effectiveness of Remdesvir injection for treatment of COVID patients

"There is no scientific proof or suggestion/indication to the effect that the said Remdesivir injection is of any help for treating COVID infected patients," AIIMS Director Dr. PK Singh informed the Court.

He stated that it was because of a misconception or wrong perception prevailing in the minds of the general public that suddenly the said Remdesivir injections have gone out of the market possibly because of creation of unnecessary artificial requirement and consequent shortage on account of hoarding and panic purchases.

Also Read: RT-PCR Tests Not Being Done At Desired Rate; Illicit Trade Of Remdesivir Injection: Patna High Court Expresses Serious Concern Over Covid Management In Bihar

However, the Bench has refrained from making any comments on the matter and has asked the State to take necessary action. It said,

"We, at this stage restrain ourselves from making any comment in this regard. We, however do observe that State, in consultation with the experts must take all possible measures to address this aspect and do the needful."

Medical Waste Disposal

Inter alia, the Bench has asked the Executive Director, State Health Society to inform the Court regarding the process of disposal of 'COVID testing kits in private laboratories', 'syringes used for vaccination', 'PPE kits', and masks.

Case Title: Shivani Kaushik v. Union of India & Ors.

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