On 26.05.2020, the Delhi High Court took Suo Motu Cognizance of a video. The video complained about the inadequacy of the Hospital facilities provided for COVID-19. Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Rajnish Bhatnagar heard the matter.
Facts of the Case
Mr Dharmendra Bhardwaj made a video-clip which has been circulating on social media. He recorded this video on 22.05.2020 when he was stationed outside Max Patparganj Hospital, Delhi. He claims that his mother has been admitted to this Hospital on 19.05.2020. Two days later she tested positive for COVID-19. He was asked to arrange a ventilator and hospital bed in some other hospital. However, he claimed that he visited several hospitals but he could not find an available bed. He also said that he called the Helpline No. 1075 on several occasions. He received no response. There was no response from DSO as well. He expressed his helplessness and anguish. He states that the claims made by the Governments for adequate arrangements being in place are far from true.
Submissions of the Parties
Adv. Mehra states that the GNCTD has provided 10 helpline numbers apart from an interactive number 1031. He submitted that the helpline numbers were not functioning. Moreover, the instructions for the same have been issued to set the system in order. He also submitted that the helpline number 1075 is managed by the Central Government.
Adv. Kirtiman Singh appearing for the centre submitted that number 1075 is an All-India helpline number. He stated that the number has received over three lakh calls. He submitted that Mr Dharmendra Bhardwaj was provided with the number of the DSO, who is a GNCTD officer.
Adv. Mehra has placed on record the status of the number of hospital beds in Government and Private hospitals for COVID-19 patients. A mobile application is under development which application will give live updates of hospital beds available in Delhi Hospitals. The application will also provide other related information. Further, the GNCTD will launch the application in the next couple of days.
The Court opined that the video raises serious issues of public concern. The Court said that a person should be able to call the helplines to not only report but to also seek guidance. The helplines should render meaningful and effective help to the callers. The Court advised that the helpline numbers should also provide guidance and information to the caller on which hospital has beds available for treatment in the Hospitals. The Court further stated that the GNCTD should also consider providing ambulance facility for pickup of COVID-19 patients in serious conditions.
The Court took suo motu notice of the said video and directed registration of a PIL on Courts own motion. The Court directed the GNCTD and the Central Government to place before the Court the status of arrangements made to deal with COVID-19 patients. The status of functional helpline numbers should be placed before the Court too. Also, the capacity created to deal with calls made on the helpline numbers and the nature of help rendered should be there. Further, there should be a log maintained for the same, if any existing, should also be placed before the Court.
The Court asked the respondents to assess the helpline and state whether the same is enough to deal with the call traffic. The Court also directed both the Governments to file their status reports on all the aspects mentioned in the video. Moreover, the Court-appointed Advocate Om Prakash as the Amicus Curiae.
The Court will now hear the matter on 03.06.2020.
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