Covid-19 patients treated worse than animals, bodies found in garbage: Supreme Court
The Supreme Court on Friday took a strong view of the treatment meted out to Covid-19 patients and dead bodies in government hospitals across the country, describing the situation as deplorable and worse than what animals would have to suffer.
Taking cognisance of media reports, a three-judge bench sought detailed status reports from four states - Delhi, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal - regarding the conditions in hospitals.
“Covid-19 patients are treated worse than animals. In one case, a dead body was found in garbage,” the bench headed by justice Ashok Bhushan remarked.
The state of Delhi came in for heavy criticism from the bench, with the court pointing out the conditions in hospitals as well the reduced testing for Covid-19. The top court also noted that patients are running from pillar to post to get themselves admitted even though a large number of beds in government hospitals are lying vacant.
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Taking note of a media report, the court highlighted how dead bodies of Covid-19 patients were lying unattended in the lobby and waiting area of Delhi’s Lok Nayak Jai Prakash hospital.
Reminding states, the top court said that governments are duty bound to ensure adequate infrastructure in hospitals and also that Covid-19 patients are attended to by health workers.
Former union law minister and senior counsel Ashwini Kumar had written to the CJI on June 8 highlighting the undesirable manner in which Covid-19 patients and dead bodies of Covid victims were being handled in various parts of the country.
Kumar pointed out a news report of a Covid-19 patient being chained to a bed in a hospital in Madhya Pradesh. He also drew the attention of the CJI to an incident from Puducherry where a dead body was thrown into a pit for burial.
Right to die with dignity is a fundamental right and it includes the right to a decent burial/ cremation, Kumar had said in his letter.
This would be the third case which the top court would be hearing suo motu in relation to issues stemming out of Covid-19 and the lockdown.
The same three-judge bench, headed by justice Ashok Bhushan, is hearing the case regarding the plight of migrant workers due to the Covid-19 lockdown and had passed orders to facilitate their return to their home states after thousands of them went out of work due to the lockdown imposed by the central and state governments.
The bench on June 9 ordered that the central and state governments should ensure the return of all migrant workers to their home states within 15 days and also asked the governments to come up with welfare schemes and job opportunities to alleviate their sufferings.