The Bombay High Court on Friday ordered the Maharashtra government to properly use its sanctioned health budget in an expedited manner to procure drugs and medical equipment [High Court on its own v. State of Maharashtra]..Not doing so within time may lead to the health budget lapsing at the cost of the public health care system, the Court observed..A division bench of Chief Justice Devendra Kumar Upadhyaya and Justice Arif Doctor made the observation after it was informed that the money sanctioned for procuring medical drugs and equipment had not fully been spent.The Court, however, took note of the Advocate General's submission that the process of procuring drugs and medical equipment has gained pace after the constitution of a State Procurement Authority. "Thus we expect adequate and appropriate steps to be taken to spend because if not used then it gets lapsed at the cost of the health care system," the Court added. .The Court also noted that one-third of the Group C posts within the Medical Education institutions and Public Health Department institutions were vacant. Group C posts include staff like nurses and other technical staff.The Court noted that vacancies in such posts could hamper services and facilities in the hospitals. On perusing a State affidavit, the Court found that out of 26,821 vacancies in the Department of Medical Education, 8,721 posts were vacant. At the Public Health Department, 20,402 out of 57,740 posts were reported to be vacant. "Roughly calculated, one-third of posts in Group C are vacant. Any vacancy in these posts is bound to hamper services and facilities in hospitals. There is an urgent need to fill all vacancies," the Court said..The Court was hearing a suo motu public interest litigation initiated in the wake of patient deaths in government hospitals at Nanded and Chhatrapati Sambhaji Nagar.The Court had earlier directed the State authorities to file an affidavit setting out details regarding vacancies in hospitals..In response, Advocate General Birendra Saraf informed the Court that the State government as well as the Maharashtra Public Service Commission was taking all steps to fill up vacancies at the earliest, if possible within a month. He informed the Court that he was personally supervising the issue as well. The division bench opined that the process has to be expedited and ordered the State to increase its pace of recruiting staff at various levels. .On Friday, the Court further directed the Maharashtra government to file another affidavit setting out the steps taken to spend the sanctioned budget for procuring drugs and equipment. The matter has been posted for further hearing on February 1, 2024.