The Division Bench of Chief Justice Mohammad Rafiq & Justice Atul Sreedharan recently pulled up the State Govt for non availability of oxygen in the State.
“There is no reason why it cannot invest an amount of Rs.50 Crore so as to set up one PSA Oxygen Plants in each of them. There is no liquid oxygen manufacturing plant in the entire State. Since there is a possibility of third wave of Covid-19 in the coming months, it is the duty of the State to take steps to ensure that such plants are set up in the State.”, the Court observed.
The Court while taking note of installation of 5 out of 8 PSA Oxygen Plants approved by the Central Govt under PM CARES (Prime Minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund) Fund remarked that the portrayal regarding availability of oxygen in the action plan submitted by the State before this Court is far from reality.
The Court further added that, “People are dying in many hospitals only because of non-availability of oxygen.” & thereby observed that all private hospitals should be mandated to set up their own Air Separation Units. The Court also focused on regular & punctual procurement of oxygen to ensure that all Private & Govt hospitals continue to have the quantity of oxygen necessary to maintain the required pressure of oxygen supply to all the patients under their treatment so that no patients succumb to CoVID due to shortage of non supply of oxygen.
The Bench in the present matter made these observations while hearing a suo motu petition registered as Public Interest Litigation for benefit of residents of the State suffering from Coronavirus, aggrieved by inaction on the part of the various State Authorities in not providing them timely and proper treatment.
During the hearing, the Court also took note of the state of affairs existing for CoVID management:
- The State Govt failed to take any steps to not charge more than the rates prescribed for treatment
- The State Government has not increased the number of testing and has not complied with directions to ensure that the report of RT-PCR is provided to the suspects/patients within 36 hours of the collection of the sample, which generally takes 3 to 4 days.
- Patients having BPL cards under Deendayal Antyodaya Upchar Yojana, Cards under Ayushman Bharat Yojana and those covered under the CGHS were neither being given admission & nor were provided treatment by the PrivateHospitals/Nursing Homes approved therefore.
- The State Government has not taken any effective steps for disposal of the medical waste, which is being dumped at open places in all the major cities of the State.
- Private hospitals are not honouring the rates prescribed by the State Government for treatment of the patients suffering from Coronavirus.
- The State Government has not taken steps to fill up the huge number of vacancies of medical and paramedical staff in the State. The posts of Specialists to the extent of 80% are lying unfilled and the posts of Medical Officers to the extent of 40% are lying vacant.
- The helpline number provided by the Government is hardly helpful to the people seeking to know the position of availability of beds in the private hospitals.
- The private hospitals are refusing to admit the ordinary patients and honouring only those patients who pay the hefty amount in advance.
- The State Government and the local administration failed to reveal the actual figure of death owing to Covid-19 and hiding data only in order to cover up their failure.
On the aspect of administration of Remdesivir injection, the Bench directed the state to ensure availability of injections at the earliest & further noted that the decision for administration should be left to the discretion of the treating doctor.
“We see no justification on the insistence of providing Remdesivir to only such patients who are on oxygen support, particularly when oxygen, as a commodity, itself has become so scarce. There appears to be no logic behind this policy.”, the Bench remarked.
Thereafter, the Court issued the following directions:
- The State Government should regulate admission of the Coronavirus patients in Government hospitals as well as private hospitals as per model developed by the Government of NCR Delhi.
- The State Government should consider increasing the sample collection from twice a day, to four-times a day, and also for that purpose, increasing the number of Technicians, Scientists and Lab Attendants etc. involved in the process to positively achieve the above target of 36 hours and submit the further progress report in this regard.
- The State Government shall take appropriate action against private Hospitals/Nursing Homes who refuse to provide treatment of the patients covered by cashless Govt schemes
- The State Government as well as the M.P. State Pollution Control Board to undertake a special drive for disposal of such bio- medical waste, wherever found, in accordance with the provisions of the Bio-Medical Waste (Management & Handling) Rules, 1998 and submit a compliance report thereabout.
- The Central Government should consider consider allowing the State Government to directly procure all kind of essential drugs, be it Remdesivir, Tocilizumab, Itolizumab, Fabiflu or any other drug, from the manufacturers, within or outside the country, so as to ensure its easy availability to the patients. At this stage, we also want to impress upon all the private Hospitals and Nursing Homes as well as the Government Hospitals to educate the patients, their attendants/family members and the people at large as to in what kind of cases the prescription of Remdesivir as a medicine is advisable.
- All the State Governments to ensure free movement of the tankers carrying the oxygen to the respective destinations to which they have to deliver the same. All the State Governments and through them, their Police Authorities and the Transport Authorities, to provide green corridors to the Tankers carrying Liquid Medical Oxygen involving inter-state movement, at par with ambulances, so that the oxygen can be timely delivered at the respective destinations, to save the precious human lives in this crucial period.
The matter will now be heard on May 6, 2021.
Case Title: In Reference (Suo Motu) vs. Union of India and others| W.P. No.8914/2020