HC raps Maharashtra govt for letting budgetary allocation for drugs, medical equipment lapse

HC directs the government to explain budget shortfall and hasten hospital staff recruitment amid concerns over hospital deaths in the state

Bombay High Court (photo: Getty Images)
Bombay High Court (photo: Getty Images)


The Bombay High Court on Friday pulled up the Maharashtra government for not releasing or spending the entire budgetary allocation for procurement of drugs and medical equipment, citing that it was letting the amount lapse at the cost of the healthcare system.

A division bench of Chief Justice D K Upadhyaya and Justice Arif Doctor sought to know from the government what steps have been taken to spend the budgetary allocation, the reasons for not releasing the amount entirely in the past and for not using the released sum.

The court was hearing a bunch of petitions, including one initiated suo moto (on its own), raising concerns over the high number of deaths at government hospitals in Nanded and Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar districts.

Advocate General Birendra Saraf informed the bench that as per earlier orders, the government has now appointed a chief executive officer for the Maharashtra Medicines Procurement Authority, and the process of issuing tenders to procure drugs and equipment has begun.

The court said it hopes and trusts that the process of procuring these items picks up pace now.

"What we notice is that the budget allocated and sanctioned is not released entirely, and whatever amount is released is not spent. What is the reason behind this?" CJ Upadhyaya asked.

"This seems to be a new trend with the government. But who is the ultimate sufferer? We hope and trust that steps would be taken to spend the budget in its entirety otherwise it lapses at the cost of the healthcare system," the court said.

It directed the state government to file an affidavit by February 1, 2024, giving these details and informing how it was meeting the demands raised by hospitals across the state.

The bench also directed the state government to expedite the recruitment to fill up vacancies at hospitals.

"One-third of posts are still lying vacant in hospitals across the state. There is an urgent need to fill up all vacancies. We are of the opinion that the recruitment process has to be expedited," the court said.

Saraf told the court that there was no lack of effort from the government in addressing the concerns raised by the court.

Most of the posts lying vacant in hospitals would be filled by the end of December, and recruitment for some posts may take some more time, he said. 

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