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State To File Affidavit Regarding Culpable Negligence of Hospitals Amounting To 11 Deaths: Bombay High Court

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The Bombay High Court sought a reply from the State while hearing a Petition alleging hospitals with culpable homicide. If the allegations were confirmed, the families of deceased shall be entitled to compensation. 

Brief Facts

The COVID-19 pandemic escalated in India ever since March 2020. To cater to the demand for hospital beds, the Government had announced makeshift hospitals for COVID- 19 patients. Therefore, the doctors, nurses and hospital management were assigned shifts round the clock in most State-run and Municipal hospitals. 

However, the Courts dealt with several instances of mismanagement in such hospitals. The Petitions raised concerns regarding ill-treatment of dead bodies which were infected with the virus. In specific, a PIL was filed by a prominent political leader in the Bombay HC highlighting the liability of hospital staff due to negligent conduct.

Court’s Observations

The Court observed that similar issues were being adjudicated by the Supreme Court which would set the precedents. Therefore, until the Apex Court issued a slew of directions in the present matter, the High Court shall not render any verdict. However, as an interim measure, the State had to adhere to the guidelines issued on 15.03.2020 by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Moreover, the authorities had to also follow the guidelines laid down by the Calcutta High Court in Vineet Ruia v. Principal Secretary of Ministry of Health, West Bengal.

Further, the Bench also encouraged the Petitioner to suggest additional measures for better management of the corpses infected with the virus. The suggestions may be shared with the Additional Government Pleader for effective implementation on perusal by the State. The State must also investigate the present matter after administration of all the relevant factual details. The responsibility lies on the welfare state to compensate the families of the deceased on account of culpable negligence of the hospitals. 

Court’s Order  

The Order was pronounced by a Division Bench comprising of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice N.J. Jamdar. The Bench ordered the State Government to access the information of the impugned cases from the hospital authorities by November 04, 2020. Further, if the management was found guilty, the families of the victims would be entitled to compensation according to the verdict of the Supreme Court.  

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