On Friday (April 23), the Patna High Court ordered setting up a dedicated ‘Covid complaint email’ in the court for addressing grievances of private Coronavirus hospitals in receiving the supply of oxygen. The order came in the backdrop of a suo motu case filed before the court regarding ‘poor healthcare facilities’ in Bihar amidst rising Coronavirus cases.
The matter was heard by a Division Bench of the Patna High Court, comprising of Justice SC Singh and Justice Mohit Kumar Shah. In its order, the Court noted, “Refusal of admission of COVID patients by any hospital because of (the) absence of oxygen is a serious matter and is likely to be fatal.” As such, the Court directed that if private Covid hospitals are denied oxygen supply due to State administration, then, they will have the liberty to approach the Court through the dedicated email ID.
The email, registered with the Registrar of the Patna High Court, goes as firstname.lastname@example.org. The Court said that the failure of the State to provide healthcare to its citizens is a violation of Article 21 (Protection of life and personal liberty) of the Indian Constitution. The Court had earlier asked the Bihar government to submit its ‘comprehensive action plan’ in dealing with the Coronavirus outbreak in the State.
On Friday, the Patna High Court also noted that several hospitals and dedicated Coronavirus treatment facilities were not equipped with adequate oxygen supplies, despite the claims of the Bihar government. The Court has asked the Union government to send a technical team by Tuesday (April 27) to assess the deficiencies in the healthcare system, suggest corrective measures and submit the report to the Court. It was also specified that such a team must be led by an officer, not below the rank of Deputy Director-General of Health Services.
Patna High Court pulls up Bihar government for its failure to receive full quota of medical oxygen
The Court was informed that the Centre had allocated a daily quota of 194MT of medical oxygen for the State of Bihar. The government said that around 72 MT oxygen was received on April 22 while only 60 MT was received on April 23.
The Division Bench noted, “Be that as it may, the figures clearly go to suggest that there is still deficiency in supply of medical oxygen for treating COVID-19 patients in the State of Bihar for the reason that admittedly the State Government has not so far received the full quota of oxygen allocated per day by the Central Government and in fact it has received less than half of the allocated quota to the State.”
It further added, “There is a requirement of continuous supply of oxygen for treatment of COVID patients and failure to procure the amount allocated by the Government of India is a serious lapse having perilous consequences of grave nature hugely affecting the healthcare system to meet the challenge.” As such, the Court has asked the Health Department of Bihar to submit a report by Monday (April 26) highlighting the circumstances that led to its failure in receiving the full quota of medical oxygen.