Covid-19 outbreak: Hospitals can’t be shut without following due process, says Bombay high court

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Published on Aug 29, 2020 01:56 AM IST
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ByKanchan Chaudhari

Notwithstanding the Covid-19 pandemic, a hospital cannot be shut down without following due process of law, the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay high court (HC) said on Thursday while striking down an order passed by local authorities abruptly shutting down a hospital in Jalna.

“If a particular procedure is prescribed for initiating appropriate steps with regard to complaints against a hospital, such procedure has to be necessarily followed. A drastic order of closure of the hospital cannot be passed under the pretext of Covid-19 Pandemic,” said the bench of justice Ravindra Ghuge and justice Shrikant Kulkarni.

The bench struck down an order issued by the district administration on August 21 cancelling the registration of Arogyam Hospital of Dr Ritesh Agrawal, after finding out that no notice was issued to the doctor before issuing the order.

The bench rejected submissions advanced by government pleader DR Kale that a number of complaints were received about malpractices in the hospital and there was a public uroar about the mismanagement at the hospital while Covid-19 pandemic was spreading. “It was in these peculiar circumstances that a show-cause notice of hearing before issuing the order of closure could not be given,” Kale said.

The bench, however, refused to accept the reason in view of an order pronounced by HC in December 2018, holding that under provisions of the Bombay Nursing Homes Registration Act, 1949 a notice is required to be issued before cancelling registration of a hospital and that registration cancelled without giving hearing to the concerned is not legally sustainable.

HC has now directed that the order dated August 21 be treated as a show-cause notice and that the competent authority under the Bombay Nursing Homes Registration Act, 1949 shall pass a fresh order on complaints received against Arogyam Hospital by September 19 after granting the hospital an opportunity to file reply to the notice and hearing.

On the request of the government pleader the bench has restrained the hospital, where nine patients are admitted for treatment, from admitting any other patient to the hospital till fresh order is passed by the competent authority.

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