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Policy Decision Of Government for Conversion of Railway Coaches To Isolation Wards Cannot Be Interfered With by Court: Madras HC [Read Order]

13 April 2020 8:05 AM GMT
Policy Decision Of Government for Conversion of Railway Coaches To Isolation Wards Cannot Be Interfered With by Court: Madras HC [Read Order]
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"In this critical situation, the yeomen services that are being rendered by Doctors to Covid patients cannot be let slip from memory forever and this Court really extends its profound appreciation to Doctors, Nurses, Police, Last Grade Employees of Corporation and the Officials of the Health Department."

The Madras High Court on Thursday lauded the government for taking timely steps and creating mobile isolation wards in train coaches, while dismissing a plea seeking a direction to the government not to convert carriages into hospitals and further to increase the number of private hospitals to provide medical aid to the Corona infected patients.

After hearing the case via video conferencing, a single-Judge bench of Justice S. Vaidyanathan discerned the "vast vision" behind converting train coaches into isolation wards and noted,

"In case of emergency in future, the Corona affected patients cannot be made to run from pillar to post to isolate themselves, in case they do not find suitable places / beds for isolation and therefore, with the vast vision, the Government has decided to convert coaches as mobile isolation wards to meet the emergent situation, which cannot be faulted with. The coaches can be easily detached for the purpose of isolation in order to maintain social distancing, than a pucca constructed building."

The Petitioner had argued that instead of adding infrastructure facilities in private hospitals, the government has chosen to provide treatment to Corona affected persons in carriages, which would not have been maintained with proper sanitation, thereby leading to a health hazard to patients, who are going to be confined therein.

Refuting the same, the state argued that it intended to use carriages as Isolation Wards to accommodate only mildly and very mildly affected persons, and that from the secondary stage onwards, the patients will be shifted to hospitals.

Further it was submitted that the coaches purported to have been converted into Isolation Wards have not been provided with any ventilator facilities and therefore, the apprehension hat there will not be proper treatment provided to patients in case they are confined into carriages, is baseless.

In appreciation of these submissions, the High Court refused to pass any directions in the matter and observed,

"The Policy decision taken by the Government for conversion of coaches cannot be blindly interfered with by this Court, unless it is perverse or illegal, as it involves the interest of public at large and this Court cannot sit on the administrative side and express its view in respect of conversion of coaches."

The court went on to point out issues related to relying on private hospitals viz.,

  • It cannot be expected that all private hospitals are always service oriented, as the administration of certain private hospitals has already gone into the hands of Corporate agents / money mongers and by using the present scenario, they will certainly attempt to mint money, instead of providing proper and good care to patients;
  • Many private hospitals may have been constructed in violation of the sanctioned building plan and they may seek for regularization of the plan on the ground that they were given permission by the Government to treat Corona patients.

The court also reserved its silence on conversion of private colleges and hostels into isolation wards for accommodating migrant workers and road side dwellers as the matter is already pending before a division bench of the High Court. Justice Vaidyanathan however remarked,

"It cannot be lost sight of the fact that after normalcy is restored, the parents will be reluctant to permit their children to study in those colleges / stay in the hostels, thinking that those places ought to have been used for isolating Corona affected persons and in that event, the privates colleges would incur financial loss and the loss cannot be recovered from anyone, much less the Government, as the Government itself is in severe financial crisis due to unforeseen pandemic outbreak. Moreover, it is very difficult to fumigate structured buildings, whereas it is very easy to fumigate Railway coaches, which are ambulatory in nature and the people, who are very sick can easily be transferred to higher centres."

The plea was thus dismissed, with a word of caution to the Petitioner to be slow in filing such type of petitions, which will create a kind of "desperation and vexation" in the Government machinery and slow down the process.

Case Details:

Case Title: M. Munusamy v. Union of India & Ors.

Case No.: WP No. 7431/2020

Quorum: Justice S. Vaidyanathan

Appearance: Advocate Krishna Murthy (for Petitioner); Sr. Panel Counsel V Chandrasekaran and K. Srinivasa Murthy, Advocates Petitioner Ramkumar amd P. Srinivasan, Addl. Advocate General SR Rajagopal assisted by Govt. Pleader V Jayaprakash Narayanan (for Respondents)

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