In special sitting, Supreme Court to hear Delhi govt’s plea on Covid beds

The Delhi high court on September 22 stayed this decision on a plea filed by Association of Healthcare Providers. Later, the Delhi government challenged this order before a division bench of the high court.
A view of Supreme court, in New Delhi. With the surge in Covid-19 cases and in view of the urgency, the Delhi government approached the Supreme Court against the HC decisions of September 22 and October 9.(Amal KS/HT PHOTO)
A view of Supreme court, in New Delhi. With the surge in Covid-19 cases and in view of the urgency, the Delhi government approached the Supreme Court against the HC decisions of September 22 and October 9.(Amal KS/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Nov 10, 2020 12:50 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByAbraham Thomas

The Supreme Court will hold a special sitting on Tuesday to consider the appeal filed by the Delhi government to implement its September 12 decision, asking 33 private hospitals and nursing homes to reserve 80 per cent beds in the intensive care unit (ICU) for Covid-19 patients.

The Delhi high court on September 22 stayed this decision on a plea filed by Association of Healthcare Providers. Later, the Delhi government challenged this order before a division bench of the high court. This bench on October 9 refused to stay the September 22 direction and posted the matter for hearing on November 27. With the surge in Covid-19 cases and in view of the urgency, the Delhi government approached the Supreme Court against the HC decisions of September 22 and October 9.

As the Supreme Court is closed for Diwali vacations, a notification on the top court’s website indicates that the special leave petition (SLP) filed by the Delhi government will be heard on Tuesday by a bench of justices Ashok Bhushan and BR Gavai. The hearing will begin at 10.30am.

In its appeal filed through advocate Chirag M Shroff, the Delhi government highlighted the increasing number of Covid-19 cases in Delhi, which has breached the daily average mark of 7,000 cases.

The government said that out of a total of 1,263 registered hospitals and nursing homes, 88 are run by the government while 1,175 are under private sector. There are 168 private hospitals in Delhi out of which the September 12 order impacts only 33 hospitals. In these 168 hospitals, there are 3,239 ICU beds of which more than 50 per cent beds (almost 1712 beds) remain available for non-Covid patients.

However, the Delhi high court stayed the Delhi government’s decision on the ground that it would impact non-Covid patients.

The Delhi government’s petition before the SC said, “As per the recommendations in the 3rd report of the Empowered Group (headed by NITI Aayog member VK Paul ), a total of 20,604 beds would be required for managing the disease burden in a scenario with 500 cases per million per day in Delhi requiring an escalation of 4891 beds from the current strength of 15,713 beds.”

The government said in the petition that facilities at its hospitals have been augmented but there remains a section of society which prefers admission in private hospitals including those with health insurance, subsidized health schemes of central and the Delhi government and ex-servicemen. The government received several complaints that such patients were being denied hospital beds in ICU by these private hospitals that led to the order being issued, the petition said.

The petition claimed that the association which has approached the high court has masked their financial interests under the garb of fighting for the misery of non-Covid patients when not a single such patient has complained of being discriminated against.

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