Justice Navin Chawla took a dim view of the AAP government’s policy to keep so many ICU beds reserved, underlining that this “cannot be sustained.”
The high court asked Delhi government to take a decision by December 26 “if it intends to continue with the 80% quota or act on the recommendation of an expert panel that the quota be reduced to 60%.” It said if cases increased, the government could always bring back the quota.
After hearing submissions by senior advocate Maninder Singh, appearing for Association of Healthcare Providers, the court fixed a deadline of December 28 by which the government has to inform it about the decision. The association has sought quashing of the government’s September 12 order to reserve 80 % ICU beds for Covid-19 patients in 33 private hospitals.
Additional solicitor general Sanjay Jain, appearing for the government, urged the court to grant some time till the committee took a decision on the basis of the panel’s recommendation. Jain said a decision would be taken after consulting two more experts— doctors — and the association could also make a representation if it wanted to.
But Singh said the association had placed its case before the court and it was not going to make any representations to the government, which had taken a “populist measure” without considering its financial or economic implications on the private hospitals whose ICU beds mostly remained vacant.
Contesting the association’s charge, ASG Jain highlighted that no patient had come forward saying he or she was denied treatment due to reservation of beds for Covid-19 patients in the 33 hospitals. He also said that “during the pandemic, a hospital cannot lay emphasis on commercial gains.”