Directions, Supreme Court
Directions, Supreme Court
Litigation News

CCTV, Discharge Policy, Price capping, Maharashtra Circular: Here are Supreme Court's directions in suo motu case on COVID-19 treatment

Shruti Mahajan

The Supreme Court today passed detailed directions for steps to be taken by the government of Delhi and other States to ensure improvement in COVID-19 treatment at hospitals in a suo motu matter concerning the treatment of COVID-19 patients (In Re The Proper Treatment of COVID19 Patients and Dignified Handling of Dead Bodies in the Hospitals etc).

The order passed by the three-Judge Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, Sanjay Kishan Kaul, and MR Shah contains detailed directions for monitoring and supervising the hospitals providing COVID-19 treatment, as well as other aspects relating to COVID-19 treatment, testing and medical facilities.

For the management and supervision of the hospitals providing COVID-19 treatment, particularly in Delhi, the Court has said:

  • The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) is to form an expert committee comprising Senior Doctors from Central government hospitals in Delhi, Doctors from other GNCTD hospitals, Doctors from AIIMS, and officers from the ministry.

  • This committee is entrusted with the responsibility to inspect, supervise, and pass necessary orders to all hospitals, be it government hospitals, COVID specialty hospitals or others in NCT for taking care of patients. One weekly visit in each hospital is to be ensured.

  • The committee may conduct surprise visits in addition to the prescribed weekly visit and after the visit may issue directions as necessary and send a report to the government of NCT Delhi and MoHFW.

  • Each State to also formulate expert committees for inspection, supervision, and guidance to hospitals as well as for issuance for necessary directions for improvement of the facility.

On the aspect of installment of CCTV cameras in hospital wards, the Coirt has said:

  • Footage from CCTV cameras installed in hospital wards in Delhi must be made available to the concerned expert committee for the inspection/ supervision and screening.

  • Steps are to be taken to install CCTV cameras in government hospitals in Delhi which are COVID dedicated and where cameras are not yet set up.

  • Chief Secretaries of other States are to take steps for installation of CCTV Cameras in COVID dedicated hospitals where COVID patients are taking treatment to facilitate the management of such patients and for the screening of the footage.

On permitting attendants to tend to COVID-19 patients:

  • All COVID hospitals shall allow one willing attendant of the COVID patient to tend to them and can remain in the area earmarked for them.

  • All COVID dedicated hospitals shall create a helpdesk accessible physically as well as by telephone from where well being of patients admitted in the hospitals can be enquired.

On discharge policy framed by the Centre, the Court opined that it must be followed by all States and UTs uniformly.

  • The Court said that the MHA may issue directions under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 directing all States and UTs to follow the revised discharge policy formulated by the Centre.

On price capping for COVID-19 tests, facilities, etc:

  • The Union of India may issue appropriate guidelines/directions to all the States/Union Territories with regard to prescribing reasonable rates of various Covid related facilities/test etc., which need to be uniformly followed by all concerned.

On Maharashtra's practice of not giving COVID positive report of a patient to their relatives:

During the course of the hearing today, the Court touched upon the issue of the decision adopted in the State of Maharashtra where the hospitals are prevented from supplying test results of a patient, if they are positive, to their relatives.

The Court was assured by the Counsel of the State that the State government will be advised to review this policy and handing over of reports to the patients and their families will be permitted. The counsel also sought to take instructions from the State on this while Solicitor General Tushar Mehta conceded that the reports must be handed over to patients and/or their relatives.

On the number of daily tests conducted:

  • Court recorded submission on behalf of Maharashtra that as on date more than 16,000 tests are conducted in the State on a daily basis.

  • The Court also took note of the affidavit submitted by NCT Delhi which states that by June 20, number of daily tests conducted in national capital will be increased up to 18,000 per day.

On the pricing of tests:

  • The Supreme Court commended the step taken by the State of Maharashtra calling it a "welcome step" on being informed that the test for COVID-19 is priced between Rs 2,200 and Rs.2,800.

  • The affidavit for NCT Delhi submitted that the costs for tests have been substantially reduced and orders pursuant to the same have been issued by the Government of India.

The Suo Motu cognizance leading to these directions:

On June 12, the three-judge bench had issued notice to the Centre and state governments of Delhi, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Maharashtra in the suo motu case on the proper treatment of COVID-19 patients and disposal of bodies of persons who have succumbed to the virus.

The Court had taken note of an India TV news report aired on June 10, wherein the deplorable condition of medical wards in Delhi was shown. Dead bodies were found in the ward, lobby and waiting area, patients had no oxygen support, and no saline drips were shown with the bed, the Court had noted, citing the report.

A separate notice was issued to LNJP Hospital in Delhi too with regard to the detoriating conditions of treatment.

When the matter was heard by the Court on June 17, thre Court pulled up the government of NCT Delhi for painting a picture of the COVID-19 situation being under control in the national capital and has asked the government to file a "better affidavit".

The directions passed by the Court today come after the detailed affidavits were filed by the States regarding the steps taken for managing the COVID treatment in the hospitals amid the ongoing crisis and the steeply rising number of COVID positive patients.

Read Order:

In Re The Proper Treatment of COVID19 Patients and Dignified Handling of Dead Bodies in the Hospitals etc.pdf

The Course of submissions today:

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