Issue of Covid management: Amicus Curiae seeks revival of plea in HC

The Amicus Curiae moved fresh application for revival of the petition and pointed out the condition of PGI and GMSH in Sector 16, which have exhausted their capacity to treat critical patients.

A day after the Punjab and Haryana High Court disposed of the matter related to the management of coronavirus cases, granting liberty to the Amicus Curiae to seek revival of the petition, the Amicus Curiae appointed in the matter moved fresh application for revival of the petition and pointed out the condition of PGI and Government Multi Specialty Hospital (GMSH) in Sector 16, which have exhausted their capacity to treat critical patients.

The Amicus Curiae, senior advocate Rupinder Khosla sought to implead the Union of India through its secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The matter is expected to be heard by the HC on Monday.

The Amicus Curiae has mentioned in the application that it has come to his knowledge that PGI and GMSH-16 have exhausted their capacity for critical patients, who require beds with ventilators, and many critical patients are running from pillar-to-posts in search of beds with ventilators in Tricity.

The number of cases in Chandigarh has been increasing multi-fold. The various affidavits and status reports filed by the states of Punjab and Haryana as well as Chandigarh show that the infrastructure to fight the pandemic is at its edge, and can tilt over anytime, if not already. It is only appropriate that the situation may not be allowed to get out of hand, and required measures be taken to ensure that no citizen feels helpless due to lack of medical infrastructure, said Khosla.

The emergent situation has resulted in moving of the present application to revive the petition, so that the Union of India can be directed to supply ventilators and other infrastructure for the region, otherwise many precious lives will be lost.

Earlier, on Friday, the bench of Justices Rajan Gupta and Karamjit Singh, while disposing of the matter, had told the three states of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh that “states shall also depute officials of the municipal bodies/health authorities to ensure that mask etiquettes are followed by general public. Heads of the public as well as private institutions would sensitise the employees to wear masks in appropriate manner. Persons who wear the masks casually leaving their mouth and/or nose exposed would be treated on the same footing as those not wearing the mask at all and liable to same punitive action.”

On Friday, Haryana additional advocate general (AAG) Ankur Mittal had submitted that the nodal agencies in every district headed by the deputy commissioner, concerned superintendent of police, a representative of the municipal council/corporation and a civil surgeon are functional. According to Mittal, senior officers of Haryana government held a meeting Thursday and deliberated on the matter. They decided that secretary, Legal Services Authority in every district would also be a member of the said committee as he receives number of complaints arising because of the Covid situation. Haryana AAG Mittal also assured the court that in every district, meeting of the committee will be held on a daily basis, by way of electronic means, if necessary, in view of the crisis, and prompt response will be ensured by the Administration as and when a call is received on the helpline number, or by any of the members of committee.

Meanwhile, Punjab AAG Vikas Mohan Gupta submitted before the HC bench that Punjab has no objection to the formation of a committee on similar lines and assigning a particular number in every district to consider the grievances of the public. He, however, submitted that a designated helpline number ‘104’ has already been assigned which entertains all types of grievances of the public. The bench on it directed Punjab that the needful be done at the earliest.

Chandigarh Senior Standing Counsel Pankaj Jain with Jaivir Chandail submitted that in the UT, a war room is already in operation which is considering the complaints of the people. A dedicated phone number is also functional.

During the hearing on Friday, advocate Navkiran Singh intervened and brought to the notice of the court that certain private hospitals are charging exorbitant fee and are fleecing the public, and this is happening due to the lack of control by authorities.

The three states, however, had assured that such grievances would be promptly looked into and punitive measures will be taken against such private hospitals and medical institutions, if the situation warrants. Further, assurance was also given that surprise checks will also be conducted by the concerned authorities on such private facilities.

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