Supreme Court: Elderly to Be Given Priority in Admission to Government Hospitals for COVID-19

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On 4th August 2020, Supreme Court issued extra directions to the States to make sure the interest of senior citizens is unharmed during the pandemic. It arose from an application filed in the Court by Dr. Ashwani Kumar that called attention to the issue.

Brief Facts of the Case

This petition has been filed by former Minister of Law and Justice and Senior Advocate Dr. Ashwini Kumar in the Supreme Court of India. This petition brings into light the plight of the elderly of our society in light of the pandemic.

It dealt with the issues faced by those senior citizens who live alone. It is common knowledge that they are more vulnerable to the virus and deserve the special attention of the medical professionals and administration. The Court had already issued relevant directions on 13.12.2018. The petitioner sought for further directives in light of the pandemic. The petitioner also prayed to ensure timely payment of pension.

Arguments Before the Court 

The petitioner appeared in person while Ms. V Mohana appeared for the Centre and the states. The petitioner submitted that older people living alone are the worst sufferers. They are unable to buy medicines, masks, etc. Their caregivers are not equipped with PPEs and are untrained, generally. They are not getting priority in Government hospitals despite their vulnerability.

Learned Counsel Ms. Mohana argued that the states have already taken all necessary steps.

Court’s Observation

The Court mentioned that in this application they are confined to the COVID-19 crisis. The governments have to ensure regular and timely payment of eligible older pensioners. Moreover, individuals have to be identified and supplied essential goods. If an individual request is made, the administration has to act. The caregivers should be equipped with PPEs. Also, the old age homes should be sanitized.

The Court also mentioned that the treatment for COVID-19 is free in all government hospitals. The elderly being high-risk individuals need to be given priority in treatment. And in case a complaint is received by the hospital authorities, immediate steps have to be taken to remedy the situation.

Court’s Order

The Court admitted that the elderly are vulnerable during this pandemic. Some Directions were issued to make sure that the elderly are looked after. The directions are:

  1. Make sure regular payment of pension.
  2. Supply essential goods like masks, sanitizers, etc. to those in need.
  3. Caregivers of the elderly need to have proper PPEs.
  4. Sanitize of old age homes as per need.
  5. Give priority to older individuals in government hospitals. 

The States are requested to file a reply through affidavit within four weeks.


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