In a development that would certainly benefit thousands of people battling the COVID-19 pandemic, the Supreme Court has directed the Union and state governments that no patient shall be denied hospitalisation or essential drugs across the country for not possessing a local residential or ID proof.
The apex court issued a host of directions to the Centre and states over the prevailing COVID-19 situation in the country.
SC asks Centre to form policy on hospital admissions
The top court directed the Centre to formulate a national policy on admissions to hospitals, within two weeks, which shall be followed by all state governments and till then no patients will be denied admission or essential drugs in absence of local residential or identity proof.
The bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud in its order noted that gaining admission into a hospital with a bed is one of the biggest challenges being faced by most individuals during this second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Left to their own devices, citizens have had to suffer immeasurable hardship. Different states and local authorities follow their own protocols. Differing standards for admission in different hospitals across the nation leads to chaos and uncertainty. The situation cannot brook any delay,” it said.
“Accordingly, we direct the Central Government to frame a policy in this regard, in exercise of its statutory powers under the Disaster Management Act, which will be followed nationally. The presence of such a policy shall ensure that no one in need is turned away from a hospital, due to no fault of their own,” it further added.
Create buffer stock of oxygen
The top court in its order, released late Sunday night, directed that the Central government, in collaboration with state governments, create a buffer stock of oxygen to ensure supply lines continue to function even in unforeseen circumstances and decentralise the location of the emergency stocks.
“The emergency stocks shall be created within the next four days and is to be replenished on a day to day basis, in addition to the existing allocation of oxygen supply to the states,” the order stated.
The top court also asked the Centre to ensure, in terms of the assurance of the solicitor general, that the deficit in the supply of oxygen to Delhi is rectified within two days, that is, on or before midnight of May 3, 2021.
It also observed that in the battle of shifting the responsibility of supplying/off-taking of oxygen, “lives of citizens cannot be put in jeopardy”.
“The protection of the lives of citizens is paramount in times of a national crisis and the responsibility falls on both the Central Government and the Delhi government to cooperate with each other to ensure that all possible measures are taken to resolve the situation,” the bench said.
No clampdown on information
It also directed that Central government and state governments shall notify all chief secretaries/directors general of police/commissioners of police that any clampdown on information on social media or harassment caused to individuals seeking/delivering help on any platform will attract a coercive exercise of jurisdiction by the Supreme Court.
The Central government is further directed to revisit its initiatives and protocols, including on the availability of oxygen, availability and pricing of vaccines, availability of essential drugs at affordable prices and respond on all the other issues highlighted in this order before the next date of the hearing on May 10.
COVID-19 situation in India
The COVID-19 situation in India continues to remain grave. The health ministry on Monday informed that over 3.68 lakh fresh cases of COVID-19 have been reported in India in the past 24 hours. The addition of the fresh cases has taken the COVID-19 case tally past 1.99 crore.
The ministry also informed that over 15.71 crore COVID-19 jabs have been administered so far. Of it, over 12.10 lakh people were vaccinated on Sunday.
Also, 3,417 COVID-19 related deaths were reported by the ministry during this period. The addition of the fresh fatalities has taken India’s death toll due to the deadly virus to 2,18,959. Of the over 1.99 crore coronavirus cases reported so far, over 34.13 lakh are active cases of the virus. It is 17.13 per cent of the total caseload. Interestingly, over 1.62 crore cases have recovered from the viral infection so far.
To read the latest news in Gujarati click here