Delhi High Court
Delhi High Court
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Delhi HC takes suo motu cognizance of video clip of a man struggling to find hospital bed for his COVID-19 positive mother


The Delhi High Court yesterday took suo moto cognizance of a video clip showing a man struggling to find a hospital bed for his COVID-19 positive mother due to unresponsive helpline numbers. (Court on its own motion vs UOI - suo moto order)

In the clipping, which is being circulated on social media, it is claimed that Max Hospital Patparganj had asked one Dharmendra Bhardwaj to arrange a ventilator and hospital bed in some other hospital for his mother after her COVID-19 test came positive.

Dharmendra Bhardwaj is seen as claiming that he visited several hospitals, but to no avail.

Importantly, he claimed that he called the Helpline No.1075 on several occasions with no response. On one occasion, he was given the number of DSO bearing No.9870552526. He called the said number, but again to no avail. On two other occasions, he was given two other numbers, namely, 011-22307133 and 22307145 respectively, which too were nonresponsive.”, the court records.

In the clip, Dharmendra Bhardwaj remarks that the tall claims of arrangements put in place by Central and Delhi Government to deal with COVID-19, who require hospitalisation and treatment, are far from true on the ground.

After watching the video, a Division Bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rajnish Bhatnagar observed,

“In our view, the aforesaid video recording raises serious issues of public concern in the present-day context. A person who, or whose family or friend is found Covid-19 positive, should be able to call the helplines to not only report such occurrence but to also seek guidance and assistance with regard to the hospitals to which such patient may be taken – if hospitalisation is necessary keeping in view of the condition of the patient.. If the experience of Mr. Dharmendra Bhardwaj is anything to go by, it appears, that this aspect has not been adequately addressed by the respondents. We, accordingly, take suo moto notice of the said video recording, and direct registration of a PIL on the Courts own Motion.”
Delhi High Court

Delhi Government submitted that it is running 10 helpline numbers, which include the numbers that Dharmendra Bhardwaj had dialled, apart from an inter-active number 1031.

It was added that the helpline numbers which were found not to be functioning efficiently, have been asked to be set in order.

The Court was also informed that a mobile application would be launched in the next couple of days to give live updates of the hospital beds available in Delhi Government Hospitals and Private Hospitals, and other related information.

As far as 1075 was concerned, the Central Government informed it was an All-India helpline number and about 3 lakh calls had been received on it.

Seeking a status report on the helpline numbers being operated by the Delhi Government and Central Government, the Court sated,

The respondents should assess the adequacy of the helpline capacity and state whether the same is sufficient to deal with the present call traffic and the traffic expected in the foreseeable future, keeping in view the continuous rise in the number of cases being reported each day. In our view, the helpline numbers of the GNCTD should also provide guidance and information to the caller as to which hospital has beds available for treatment of serious COVID-19 patients – both in Government and Private Hospitals, particularly in the proximity of the caller patient’s location. The capacity created to deal with calls made on the helpline numbers; the nature of assistance rendered, and; the log maintained for the same, if any, should also be placed before the Court.
Delhi High Court

The Delhi Government should also consider providing ambulance facility for pickup of COVID-19 serious patients for hospitalisation, once a caller reports a serious COVID-19 case, the Court added.

The Court appointed Advocate Om Prakash as the Amicus Curiae and asked him to call the helpline numbers and report with regard to their effectiveness in providing help to the callers.

As per the Court's direction, the matter would be placed before the PIL Bench headed by the Chief Jutsice, Justice DN Patel.

The matter would be heard next on June 3.

Court on its own motion vs UOI - suo moto order.pdf
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