Observation of the Court
Advocate Darpan Wadhwa who is appearing on behalf of the petitioner raised four contentions-
The petitioner said that the persons housed in the night shelter were supposed to be shifted to Gargi School. However, only 76 persons were shifted, and the remaining 74 persons remain at the night shelter. Additionally, social distancing norms are not maintained in the aforementioned location.
The learned standing counsel Rahul Mehra, for the Government of NCT of Delhi (GNCTD), points out that they have already filed a list of hospitals that are offering free non-COVID treatment. Advocate Mehra submitted that out of 37 hospitals administered by them, only 2 have been converted into exclusive COVID-19 facilities. The remaining 35 hospitals continue to provide treatment to non- COVID-19 patients irrespective of their place of residence.
The court directed Advocate Mehra representing GNCTD to serve the petitioner and other counsels in the matter the list of the rest 35 hospitals providing treatment to non-COVID patients.
The petitioner has also contended that the persons shifted to Gargi School are not able to afford transport to AIIMS to receive treatment. He points out that at Radha Swami Satsang facility at Bhati, the DTC has made available transportation and a similar facility may be provided at Gargi School.
Advocate Chauhan, who appears for Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) stated that they have been providing two types of accommodations. Namely, tents – which are erected on the footpath opposite AIIMS, and night shelters – which are semi pucca structure equipped with toilet facilities.
He specified that the tented accommodation was created to deal with extremely cold conditions, and it is not habitable in summer. This is why the occupants of the tents have been shifted to Gargi School.
He concedes that there is no maintenance of social distancing norms in the shelters due to high occupancy. Therefore, it may be necessary to shift about 100 occupants wherever they can be accommodated.
Advocate Mehra submitted that the facility at Radha Swami Satsang is managed very well. He would also instruct the District Magistrate-South to consult with Radha Swami Satsang to take more inmates if capacity permits.
Advocate Varma representing AIIMS said that they need to check whether some of the inmates can be accommodated within the Vishram Sadan of AIIMS. As they are receiving treatment at AIIMS, it would be more convenient if they are accommodated therein.
The court also asked the respective counsels to show the availability of the facilities on the next date. It also directed the District Magistrate-South to make transport available to the inmates at Gargi School so that they could receive treatment at AIIMS.
Advocate Wadhwa referred to para 2(c) of the AIIMS status report wherein they have stated that the further treatment of urgent and non-urgent patients would be coordinated by forming batches. Advocate Wadhwa points out that this statement requires clarity as to how exactly the issue will be dealt with.
The court affirmed the petitioner’s submission that this statement of AIIMS requires clarity. It is not clear as to how exactly AIIMS would be providing the treatment at Gargi School or night shelters. Hence, the court asked AIIMS to file a better status report in this regard before the next date with copies to other counsels.
The petitioner lastly remarked that though GNCTD is providing food, the same does not meet the needs of some patients. This is because they require a semi-solid or liquid diet due to their specific medical condition.
The Delhi High Court directed the District Magistrate-South to look into this aspect and provide patients at Gargi School or night shelter with a special diet (semi-solid or liquid) as required.
The Division bench will hear the matter again on May 14, 2020, with the implementation of all the issued directions.
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