Delhi HC to hear contempt plea against Delhi Govt, LNJP hospital for mishandling COVID-19 victims’ bodies
The petitioner has referred to a viral news story showing that naked dead bodies/unconscious patients are lying on floor beneath beds where other COVID-19 patients are being treated in LNJP Hospital
The Delhi High Court has agreed to hear a contempt petition filed against the Chief Secretary and the Principal Health Secretary of the Delhi Government for flouting the directions issued by the High Court in a suo moto case registered against manhandling of COVID-19 affected patients/ dead bodies, legal news website LiveLaw.in has reported.
The contempt petition filed by advocate Avadh Kaushik also states that the abovementioned government representatives and LNJP's Medical Director have been knowingly filing false affidavits in the matter.
The matter was mentioned today and is listed for hearing on June 15.
It is stated that while the respondents have been assuring the court that they are taking all steps in accordance with the protocol framed to admit and treat COVID-19 patients and for handling/disposing of the dead bodies, the actual state of affairs in Delhi is altogether different and worse than what is being projected in the court.
The petitioner has referred to a viral news report showing that naked dead bodies/ unconscious patients are lying on floor beneath the beds where other COVID-19 patients are being treated in the LNJP Hospital. Further it is shown that not a single doctor or para-medical staff is available in such wards.
"These videos further reveal that numerous dead bodies, apart from being lying abandoned inside the wards, are also lying in the corridors of the said hospital without any attendant or staff to take care or to manage them to send to the mortuary and/or for cremation," the plea states while contending that the hospital should be charged for medical negligence and for dereliction of duty.
The petition highlights the "appalling and inhumane" state of affairs in Delhi's largest Covid-19 dedicated hospital (LNJP) whereby patients are suffering with breathlessness, and not a single healthcare worker is available to look after them.
"The respondents/contemnors herein are, time and again, filing status reports/affidavits before this court denying such real facts and allegations, of course with deliberate and malafide intention in order to avoid any strong directions or orders of this court and therefore, they are repeatedly assuring this court that the situation is under control and they are taking all requisite steps and actions," the plea states.
Accordingly, the petitioner has sought initiation of legal proceedings against such contemptuous acts of the respondents.
"Due to the aforesaid breach, non-action and contemptuous act of the respondents, not only the grace, dignity and majesty of this court has been lowered but the public at large has also been caused serious prejudice and thus, it would be expedient and in the interest of justice that stern action is taken against the respondents/contemnors by this court by awarding deterrent punishment to them," the petitioner has prayed.
He has also sought formation of a Committee of experts including doctors and advocates, to forthwith conduct an inspection of the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital or of any other hospital, to assess the current situation of the patients admitted and dead bodies lying there.
In the meanwhile, it is prayed that the respondents be directed to take prompt remedial steps to provide adequate medical support and treatment to the COVID-19 positive patients admitted in the hospitals and to remove and dispose of the dead bodies lying in the wards/ hospital corridors.
Last month, a Division Bench of Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Justice Asha Menon had taken suo moto cognizance of a newspaper report which has highlighted the sad state of affairs in which the bodies of those who have died of COVID-19 are being handled by the mortuary as well as crematoriums.
Subsequently, the matter was listed on several occasions wherein the Delhi Government assured the court that all the systems are in place and that they are taking all steps in accordance with the protocol and guidelines framed to admit and treat COVID-19 patients and for handling/disposing of the dead bodies.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court also took suo moto notice of reports of alleged mishandling of COVID-19 affected dead Bodies and registered a case titled "In Re Proper Treatment Of COVID-19 Patients And Dignified Handling Of Dead Bodies In The Hospitals, Etc.," listed for hearing on Friday.