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Delhi High Court Vacates Stay on the Reservation of 80% ICU Beds for COVID -19 Patients

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The Delhi High Court vacated an order that stayed the Delhi Government’s direction. This direction was related to 33 private hospitals to reserve 80% ICU beds for COVID-19 patients, in the matter of GNCTD vs Association of Healthcare Providers (India).

Brief Facts

The Court was hearing the Delhi Government’s appeal. This was against the Stay Order in the petition preferred by the Association of Healthcare Providers (India). This Order was passed by a single-judge Bench of Justice Navin Chawla. Concerns were also raised on the fate of critical non-COVID patients. They might be turned away despite the availability of ICU beds in the reserved category. Additional Standing Counsel appeared along with ASG Jain. Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain appeared for the Delhi Government.


ASG Jain stated that this was not an adversarial litigation. The reservation was to be reviewed in 15 days. He stated that current COVID-19 situation in Delhi was very critical. There was a high increase in demand for ICU beds. ASG Jain responded that the selected 33 private hospitals were the preferred hospitals. These hospitals constituted a large chunk of ICU beds. It was explained that the remaining hospitals had lesser number of ICU beds.

They also lacked the facility to segregate COVID-19 patients from non-COVID-19. He informed that the actual occupancy of ICU beds by non-COVID patients was much lesser than the number of available, non-reserved beds. ASG Jain stated that the 33 private hospitals had earlier provided 1238 ICU beds as against 1742 ICU beds, post reservation. The remaining hospitals had reserved 620 beds on their own. This was done based on their possible capacity.  

The Respondent was the Original Petitioner. They were the Association of Healthcare Providers (India). They opposed the vacation of stay. This was on the ground that at the time of the formulation of policy in September, the authorities had not conducted any study. Senior Advocate Maninder Singh asserted that at any point, 50% of ICU beds were required by non-COVID emergency patients. Singh argued that the matter in question was the vacancy of ICU beds for non-COVID patients.

He argued that the shortage should be compensated with augmentation and alternative arrangement. Snatching away of beds from other categories would never prove to be the right solution. 

Court’s Observations

A Division Bench of Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Subramonium Prasad heard the present petition. It took into account the existence of a network of Nodal Officers who could relax the reservation norm for the 33 private hospitals. They could also juggle the ICU beds between COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients. The Court considered the present situation in Delhi, the spiralling cases and the ground reality. It stated that it was different from how it was when the stay order was passed. 

The government was questioned on the criteria for selection of those 33 private hospitals out of 115 private hospitals. The Court remarked that the decision was outdated. This was as the situation of COVID-19 infection had changed drastically from September. The Court questioned if ICU beds could be reserved in all the private hospitals to reduce the figure to 80%. The court observed that the situation in Delhi was dynamic, and thus the Government must be spontaneous and efficient enough. 

The Court suggested the government to become more considerate and alive towards the situation in Delhi. Further, the Court acknowledged that a blanket order on reservation for non-COVID patients was not the best solution and would not satisfy the needs of the patients. The Court remarked that no person should face any hassle in case of a health emergency.  

Court’s Decision

Given the situation which had changed since the Stay Order was passed, the Court proceeded to vacate the order passed by the Single Judge. The matter was referred by the court back to the single-judge. The Delhi Government was directed to file an additional affidavit on material information. The Court stated that adjournment would not apply to anyone. The 80% order would continue till the next hearing. The next hearing was listed before the Single Judge Bench on November 26th. 

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