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Fire At COVID-19 Hospitals : Supreme Court Calls For Fire Safety Audit Report From States

Sanya Talwar
9 Dec 2020 7:18 AM GMT
Fire At COVID-19 Hospitals : Supreme Court Calls For Fire Safety Audit Report From States
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The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the State of Gujarat to file the report of the inquiry into the fire incidents in COVID-19 hospitals by December 11.Today, the Solicitor General appeared for the Centre and informed a bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy & MR Shah that the report with regard to the fire safety audit of states is under preparation. "Many states were...

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the State of Gujarat to file the report of the inquiry into the fire incidents in COVID-19 hospitals by December 11.

Today, the Solicitor General appeared for the Centre and informed a bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy & MR Shah that the report with regard to the fire safety audit of states is under preparation.

"Many states were required to report to us on December 4 but some have delayed so we haven't been able to file a collate report" said the Law Officer.

"You should have filed with those states who have complied", the bench said and then granted the Centre more time to file it.

"We'll give you more time to file it," said Justice Bhushan.

Advocate Aparna Bhat appeared for an intervenor who represented the wife of a petitioner who died in a fire at a Covid hospital at Ahmedabad.

Solicitor General also informed court that Committee's for inquiries have been formulated to inquire into fires at Covid19 hospitals. "Nothing more could have been done," he said.

"What has the committee done all this time?" Justice Shah said 

"We have nothing to hide, the truth must come out. Since one Committee (Rajkot) for inquiring into the fire incident at the covid hospital is headed by Justice Mehta, the same may be done for other committee at Ahmedabad," Solicitor General said.

With this, the court ordered that with regard to fire safety audit, compilation of all data by states must be filed within 3 days. It said that the Ahmedabad fire incident may also be inquired into by the same Committee appointed for inquiring into Rajkot Fire incident.

Further, the court held that as per its directions on 3.12.2020, suggestions by states (for ensuring compliance of covid safety measures and for enforcing mask-wearing) may come on record by end of this week. 

On December 3, the court had directed the Centre and State Governments to put forth suggestions for proper implementation of guidelines and SOP's for social distancing and wearing masks during COVID-19.

The bench had stated that even thought stringent guidelines were in place for ensuring social distancing and wearing masks, they were not achieving desired results and neither were they being followed by most of the states.

Court had then, further taken note of the submission that there have been large public gatherings including political, religious, ceremonial where the social distancing is given a go-bye and there are no appropriate mechanism to check such social gatherings and gave time to states and the Centre so that appropriate suggestions in the above regard so that appropriate directions may be issued by this Court to implement the guidelines and to ensure the compliance by 7th December, 2020.

Court also issued notice to the State of Himachal Pradesh to file a status report regarding treatment of Covid patients in different hospitals, infrastructure and facilities available there and listed the Suo Motu petition for consideration on December 9, 2020.

The directions were given in the suo moto case titled, "In Re: Proper Treatment of COVID-19 Patients and Dignified Handling of Dead Bodies in the Hospitals, etc".

The Court had earlier taken suo motu cognisance of the fire which broke out at a COVID-19 designated hospital in Gujarat's Rajkot in the wee hours of the morning of November 27.

In this light, the Solicitor General informed Court that a meeting had been convened and various measures had been put in place to maintain and inspect the premises.

Last month, the top court had observed that the pandemic situation is likely to worsen across the country in the coming months and States as well as the Centre must be well-equipped to deal with the Covid19 crisis.

In this light, the bench had directed the States of Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat & Assam to file status reports with respect to the Covid19 cases in respective states, the ground situation for handling crisis as well as steps taken.

Click Here To Download Order

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