SC tells HC to hear govt's plea tomorrow
- The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to interfere with the Delhi High Court’s order staying the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government’s instruction to private hospitals in the city to reserve a substantial number of beds in intensive care unit (ICU) for Covid-19 patients
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to interfere with the Delhi High Court's order staying the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government's instruction to private hospitals in the city to reserve a substantial number of beds in intensive care unit (ICU) for Covid-19 patients. However, the apex court has asked the Delhi High Court to hear the case on Thursday.
The AAP government issued an order on September 12 asking 33 private hospitals in the city to reserve 80% ICU beds for Covid-19 patients. This order was stayed by the Delhi HC on September 22 on a petition by the Association of Healthcare Providers. Later, on October 9, a division bench of the Delhi High Court took up an appeal by the Delhi government, refusing to vacate the stay while adjourning the matter to November 27. The AAP government approached the apex court against these two orders of September 22 and October 9.
The apex bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and BR Gavai raised a preliminary objection against hearing the case. The bench said, "We know the problem faced by Delhi as cases (of Covid-19) are increasing. But the October 9 order passed by the Delhi High Court has merely adjourned the matter. How can a special leave petition (SLP) be entertained against such an order?"
Additional solicitor general (ASG) Sanjay Jain appearing for the Delhi government pressed the panic button citing the upcoming Diwali festival.
He said, "We are willing to go back to the Delhi High Court, but we request if the HC judgment could be stayed for a week as this week is crucial. Due to Diwali, people are mingling, and cases will go beyond control… If our order (of September 12) would not have been stayed, we could have got 500 more beds to admit Covid-19 patients. The current requirement is for more than 6000 beds and Delhi government hospitals, put together, can provide only up to 4,000 beds."
The bench told Jain, "We are aware that the situation in the city is worsening. Delhi has a problem, sometimes 5,000, sometimes 10,000; this is a fluctuating situation… You can bring this matter to the attention of the High Court."
Jain explained that in the last few days, daily average of Covid-9 cases crossed the 7,000 mark. "If possible, please understand my predicament. The city is facing an extraordinary situation. Lots of people from other states are coming into Delhi for better healthcare. A large number of people in the middle-class segment in the city prefer to get admitted to private hospitals."
He submitted that the order to reserve 80% ICU beds applied only to 33 private hospitals and was meant to be a temporary measure. "We won't insist on reserving 80% beds beyond a week or two weeks," Jain said.