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Union’s Liability To Replace Faulty Ventilators: Bombay High Court

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Petitioner’s submission 

The Chief Public Prosecutor had conducted an analysis on installation, commissioning, and operation of ventilators provided by the central government to the state government for the COVID-19 management. It was submitted that upon inspection he found that the ventilators were defective; Model name “Dhaman- III manufactured by Jyoti CNC, Rajkot. It was submitted that the persons who inspected and analyzed the ventilators were representatives of the manufacturer, procurement agency HLL, and the CDSCO representatives. It was further submitted that the ventilators that were commissioned had suffered continuous breakdown even after repairs. The desaturation, water drain issue, UI not proper, frequent oxygen sensor failure, and defective interface were some of the defects.


There was 269 trained personnel in the hospital to operate the ventilators. The training manuals were provided to the hospitals during the deployment of the ventilators. The learned chief public prosecutor had submitted that since the risk factor was high on utilizing the defective ventilators for treating the patients, the hospitals would not use these faulty ventilators until they were perfectly functional. He further stated that the government medical college and hospital at Aurangabad and Ambejogai did not have a repairing center and it would be appropriate for the manufacturer to carry these defective ventilators to its own repairing centers.


Petitioner’s prayers 

The petitioner had prayed that if the ventilators were found to be defective or dysfunctional even after inspection and repairs the manufacturer would be held liable and the union of India should provide a replacement for the defective ventilators along with one year warranty for each ventilator. The learned Additional Solicitor General of India further added that the “no casualty” would occur since these ventilators would not aid in treating the patients. The doctors of GMCH Aurangabad and the representatives of the manufacturer should ensure that these ventilators were fully functional and fulfill the desirable operational standards.


Court’s observation :

The court made it clear that the Union of India should be firm with the manufacturer in the event of supply of defective ventilators and if necessary the defective ones could be returned also. It was the responsibility of the Union of India to ensure that the dysfunctional ventilators should be replaced with new functional ventilators. In case of manufacturing defects, there should be a replacement done under the warranty scheme. The court gave an order with no permission to be given for the experimentation of the ventilators which had undergone major repairs. Further, treating the patients with these ventilators would cause risk and pose a hazard to patients. The use of such ventilators should be averted. 


Court’s Decision 

The court had directed the center to replace the faulty and defective ventilators with fully functional ventilators to reduce the loss of lives. The court expected a report to be submitted regarding the visits of doctors and the exercise that was supposed to be undertaken on June 3rd, 2021. The court had further moved the hearing to 7th June 2021.

Case: The Registrar (Judicial) vs Union of India

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